WASHINGTON (Nov. 16)
The State Department has sharply denied a report in the semi-official Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram that the Israeli Air Force participated in NATO maneuvers in the Eastern Mediterranean last month. The charge was also denied by the British Foreign Office in London. Al Ahram, a Cairo daily that speaks for President Gamal Abdel Nasser, claimed that it had “indisputable” and “detailed” evidence of Israeli participation in the joint Anglo-American war games and reported that the purported Israeli role “gave rise to another wave of fury in the Arab world against the U.S. whose support for Israel is limitless” Al Ahram claimed that radar in an unidentified Arab country had tracked Israeli planes returning hone from the sea-air exercises and that the U.S. Sixth Fleet has films of Israeli aircraft taking part in the maneuvers.
State Department spokesman Robert J. McCloskey dismissed the Al Ahram charge as untrue. He also rejected an Egyptian report that accused the U.S. of trying to interfere with the Arab summit conference in Rabat, Morocco next month. Mr. McCloskey said that both reports “fit into a pattern of distortion and fabrications which we find emanating from Cairo all too frequently.” Observers here said that Mr. McCloskey’s sharp rebuttal indicated that the U.S. is losing patience with Egypt despite the opinion of many of the State Department’s Mideast specialists that anti-U.S. statements are meant for domestic consumption and do not merit undue attention.