WASHINGTON (Jan. 3)
President Nixon reaffirmed last night that the United States has made a commitment in principle not to permit the military balance in the Middle East to shift to the disadvantage of Israel but declined to specify whether or not that principle is being Implemented.
Nixon appeared on a live CBS television interview, “A Conversation With President Nixon,” conducted by Dan Rather, White House correspondent for CBS News. Ranging over a wide spectrum of national and international affairs, Rather asked Nixon whether it was true that the US has agreed in principle to sell additional Phantom jets to Israel according to reports circulating this weekend. Nixon replied:
“We have made a decision of implementing a decision that I have long announced: that we will not allow the military balance in the Middle East to be shifted. Now, the Soviet Union has been sending in very significant arms shipments to the UAR. In view of these shipments, as that continues to escalate, we have had to consider the requests of Israel for planes in order to see that the balance does not shift. We have made a commitment in principle. As far as implementing that principle, however, this is not, of course, the time to go into it.”
HAD BEEN KNOWN TO ISRAEL
Earlier during the hour-long interview, Nixon indicated that in his meeting with Soviet leaders in May, the Middle East will be one of the topics for discussion.
(In Jerusalem, Foreign Ministry officials claimed today that Nixon’s views on the delivery of Phantom jets to Israel reflected the President’s views “as they had been known to Israel.” The officials declined to say whether Nixon’s views on the subject became known during Premier Golda Meir’s visit to Washington in Nov. or were known here before her visit.)
State Department spokesman Charles Bray was asked today by newsmen whether the US had indications that Israel is prepared to make political or territorial concessions “now that they have been assured of continued Phantom deliveries.” Bray replied to the second part of the question by referring reporters to Nixon’s television remarks and offered a “no comment” to the first part of the question but warned against speculation along those lines.