WASHINGTON (Nov. 15)
The State Department said today that the Soviet Union is acting with “observable restraint” in the shipment of arms to Egypt. Spokesman Charles Bray offered that remark in reply to questions on an interview with Secretary of State William P. Rogers published in the Nov. 22 edition of US News and World Report. Rogers said in the interview that the Soviets had cut down arms shipments to Egypt in the last four months and that up to now the Middle East arms balance has not shifted.
Bray said Rogers’ comment followed “an assessment of information available to us as of Nov. 1. ” He added that this was “a punctuation mark of sorts” and that the US “will go on watching the situation very closely and will do so particularly in light of the context of the Moscow communique” issued last month following the visit of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to the Soviet capital.
In reply to other questions, Bray said he did not know if the Soviet slowdown on arms shipments to Egypt was in response to an American request or whether it was based on the US dental so far of Israel’s request for more Phantom jets. Regarding the Phantoms. Bray said the State Department would keep the matter “under continuing study and review.” He said he believed the State Department has been in touch with Israel on the subject through the Israeli Embassy here. He said a Jerusalem report that the Phantoms would not be granted was not “accurate.” (See story P.3 for Israel’s assessment.)