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Stevenson Urges Administration to Clarify Its Position on Sale of Planes to Libya

Adlai E. Stevenson III, Democratic Senatorial candidate, said today that he was not satisfied with the reply he received from the U.S. State Department to a recent query he made concerning the Nixon administration’s intentions on arms supplies to the Middle East. Mr. Stevenson, who is Illinois State Treasurer, said the administration has made it amply clear why it refused to comply with Israel’s request for additional aircraft, but “What is it doing with respect to the Arab states? Will it cancel the contract it renegotiated with Libya in 1969 for the supply of additional F-5 fighters?” Mr. Stevenson made public a letter he received from the State Department March 31 in reply to his query. The writer, David D. Newsom, said there had been “no discussions with the new Libyan government about the sales of additional aircraft beyond the ten delivered in 1968 and the eight contracted for in 1969.” He said “the situation has changed since the original contract was signed” and “the question of the delivery of planes under contract is, therefore, under review.”

The State Department’s letter referred to President Nixon’s March 21 statement that American policy “is to maintain a military balance between the forces in the area and to assure that Israel is not placed in an inferior position.” Mr. Stevenson commented, “The fate of Israel is at stake and I for one am not satisfied that its future is secure. And it must be.” He asked, “Are we to go on training Jordanians, Iraqi and Libyan pilots? What commitments for the supply of additional hardware and training personnel do we have?” Mr. Stevenson urged the administration “to put forth a more determined effort to reach an agreement with the other supplier nations on the limitation of arms to the Middle East.” He acknowledged that “The Soviets may make such an agreement difficult or even impossible to achieve.” Mr. Stevenson is a son of the late Adlai E. Stevenson, former Governor of Illinois and the Democratic Presidential candidate in 1952 and 1956.

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