WASHINGTON (May. 19)
State Department spokesman Robert J. McCloskey told the press today that it was not his “understanding” that the United States had any agreement to replace downed Israeli planes. His statement appeared to contradict the announcement of Secretary of State William P. Rogers on March 23 that “The United States will be in a position to provide additional as well as replacement aircraft promptly if the situation requires it.” The “situation” referred to was the shifting of the Middle East military balance away from Israel. There was no immediate clarification from the State Department whether Mr. McCloskey’s statement signified a reversal of Mr. Rogers’ declaration or whether it was the State Department consensus that the situation in the Middle East does not yet require replacement aircraft. Mr. McCloskey also said there would be no announcement of additional jet sales to Israel in conjunction with the visit here Wednesday of Foreign Minister Abba Eban. He added that he had no information on SAM-3 missile building along the Suez Canal.