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U.S. Reacting ‘accordingly’ to Soviet Arab Arms Shipments, State Dept. Official Says

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Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Roger P. Daviez told a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee today that Soviet shipments of arms to Egypt “have caused us to react accordingly in order to maintain the balance of arms in the Middle East,” In an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency after his testimony, Davies said that the reaction he spoke of came from a “continuing review” of shipments to the area. The State Department spokesman was asked at the daily press briefing to clarify Davies’ comment as to whether the recent acceleration of Soviet arms shipments to Egypt and Syria had caused the U.S. to end the delay in answering Israeli arms requests. The spokesman said that Davies was “speaking of the process and counter process” of the Israeli-American supply relationship in “a historical context, ” rather than to specific reactions to recent actions. The spokesman refused to comment further on American assessment of the military balance in the area.

In his testimony Davies also spoke of American relations with Syria. He said the new Syrian regime, which has recently received large amounts of Russian aircraft including transport helicopters “showed promise of being more pragmatic than its predecessor.” He added that the U.S. “hopes that some more active dialogue could be undertaken with that government so as to move toward more normal and friendlier relations.” Asked to clarify this portion of Davies’ testimony, State Department spokesman Charles Bray said that he did not know “the state of play” on such a dialogue and reminded the press that the U.S. stood ready to resume relations with Syria and any of the other countries that severed their relations with the U.S. in 1967 at any time. In response to further questioning, Bray added that recent shipments of Russian planes to Syria would not influence any dialogue. Davies also told the Foreign Operations Subcommittee the U.S. was requesting military sales credit for Saudi Arabia so that they can “maximize spending on economic development.” He said that the credit worker “deferred military development for several major projects in their coordinated military development program.” Oil rich Saudi Arabia has helped support the efforts of its less moderate Arab neighbors against Israel.

Jordan is also in for some American aid, Davies told the Committee’s chairman, Sen. William Proxmire (D., Wis.). He specified $750,000 for technical assistance but did not detail the Nixon Administration budget requests for military aid to Jordan. Donald G. MacDonald, the assistant administrator of the Agency for International Development, stated that the Administration requested $30 million for Jordan “in economic supporting assistance to help finance a portion of reconstruction costs” as a result of the war with the Palestinian guerrillas.

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