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Rogers: U.S. Has Decided to Sell Phantoms to Saudi Arabia; No Decision on Jets to Kuwait

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Secretary of State William P. Rogers indicated to the House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday that the Nixon Administration has decided to sell a reported 24-30 F-4 I phantom jets to Saudi Arabia but has not made any decision yet on Kuwait’s request to buy the supersonic fighter-bombers. Rogers said that the sale of the warplanes and other military equipment to the two Arab states did not mean any change in U.S. policy toward Israel which, he said, is to support Israel.

Rogers added, however, that the U.S. must take into consideration the political realities in the Persian Gulf area. He said that if the U.S. did not sell arms to countries requesting them, others will. He observed that both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are presently negotiating with other countries for equipment.

He said the arms sales programs the Administration is proposing “are intended to maintain the stability and military balance essential to encourage a meaningful Arab-Israeli negotiating process, as well as to promote regional security in the area of the Arabian peninsula and Persian Gulf where we have important interests.” Israel has expressed serious concern over the projected sale of Phantoms to Arab countries. It has lodged representations with both the State Department and the White House on that aspect of the U.S. arms sales program.

Rogers appeared before the committee on behalf of the Administration’s Foreign Aid Bill for fiscal 1974 beginning July 1. The bill calls for $1,310 billion in military assistance and an almost equal amount–$1,338 billion–in economic aid. Israel is not included in the economic recommendations but the Administration’s proposed program for military assistance calls for Israel to receive credit of up to $300 million and a grant of $25 million for economic supporting assistance to help Israel meet its budget deficits in view of its defense burdens. The Administration bill also calls for $40 million in grant aid to Jordan and $5 million in military sales credit to Lebanon.

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