WASHINGTON (Mar. 18)
Secretary of State William P. Rogers will hold a press conference Monday to announce President Nixon’s decision on whether to sell Phantom and Sky hawk Jets to Israel: The to Israel. The announcement of Rogers’ press conference came at the State Department noon briefing today. Although State Department spokesmen would not confirm whether the press conference was specifically for the purpose of announcing Nixon’s decision, they would not deny it, either. The decision was originally supposed to be announced this week. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Ron Ziegler said: “The announcement will be made later this week at the State Department.” Late last week. State Department officials indicated that Secretary Rogers planned a press conference tomorrow or Friday. There is no indication officially of the reason for the change.
On Jan. 30 Pres. Nixon said at a press conference that he would announce within 30 days whether or not Israel would be authorized to buy the military planes it requested. When the 30-day period passed without any announcement speculation grew that the administration was not going to sell the planes. By the beginning of this week most observers and authoritative sources in Washington and Israel asserted that Nixon had decided against the sale at this time but added the administration would keep a careful eye on the Middle East situation and that American planes would be available if the military balance there changed to threaten Israel’s existence.