Rogers Deplores Further Soviet Arms Shipments to the Middle East

Secretary of State William P. Rogers said today that he deplored indications of further Soviet arms shipments to the Middle East “at a time when serious efforts to achieve an interim agreement are under way.” Rogers said. “We will give careful and prompt review to this in light of President Nixon’s commitment to maintain the military balance in the area.” Rogers made that comment in New York with reference to the joint communique issued in Moscow last night at the end of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s visit to the Soviet capital. He spoke to newsmen following an hour-long meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban. State Department sources here said today that Rogers’ reference to Nixon’s pledge to maintain the Mideast arms balance inched Israel’s request for more American combat aircraft forward a notch.

A State Department official responded with a sharp “no” when asked whether Israel’s long standing request for more Phantom jets was linked to the way Israel votes on the issue of the expulsion of the Republic of China (Taiwan) from the United Nations when it comes up in the General Assembly. The official said Israel’s request for planes stands on its own merits and added that the US does not conduct diplomacy in that manner. The official declined to discuss whether Israeli officials linked the planes with the China vote. State Department sources said that in his talk with Eban today, Rogers emphasized that the US wants to work with Israel and see to it that Israel does not become burdened with any unmanageable risks. The sources said the Eban-Rogers talk was confined to the issue of the Suez cease-fire which Israel wants to be of unlimited duration while Egypt insists on a six-month deadline.

The sources said that Rogers impressed upon Eban the seriousness of America’s purpose to achieve an interim agreement on the Suez Canal and that the Secretary was satisfied that Israel wishes the US to continue its efforts. State Department sources said today that following the Rogers-Eban talk they were not certain that Israel will vote with the US against the expulsion of Taiwan from the UN. They said that it had been assumed that Israel would vote with the US but in light of today’s meeting “we cannot confirm this.” Eban reportedly told Rogers that Israel will let the US know its position prior to the vote. (In New York, Israeli sources rejected the two-China policy of the US, contending that it would be akin to Israel’s being represented by both the Meir government and the Arafat Palestinian entity. They said Israel would support the substitution of the Peking regime for the Taiwan regime.)

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