WASHINGTON (Oct. 15)
The U.S. government, officially describing the current Soviet airlift of military equipment to Egypt and Syria as “massive” announced today it has begun “some resupply” of war materiel to Israel. U.S. officials would not “itemize” the materiel in the resupply effort which was reported to have begun in the “last 30 hours,” presumably as of Sunday, and some of the equipment has already reached Israel. The announcement came at the State Department which declared that the Soviet airlift “continued at an increased pace both with respect to the number of flights and tonnage delivered” to the two Arab countries. Spokesman Robert J. McCloskey said that he estimated the Soviet supply as being “roughly” 4000 tons of equipment delivered in approximately 280 flights since about last Wednesday. “In our own case,” McCloskey said, “we watched and waited over the situation for several days, pursuing the objective of achieving a diplomatic arrangement to end the fighting.” McCloskey pointed out that the resupply is to help offset Israel’s losses of equipment in the fighting thus far. He also said that U.S. aid to Israel “to an appreciable extent, is designed also to prevent this massive airlift by the Soviets from unsettling the military balance in the area.”
McCloskey refused to discuss whether any diplomatic concessions were promised by Israel to obtain the resupply. He stressed that “when we talk of military balance we talk of inventories.” He emphasized that no U.S. military or civilian personnel are engaged in the fighting. He also stressed that Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger is continuing U.S. diplomatic efforts in “bilateral channels in the first instance” with the parties involved in the fighting or interested in it. Among Dr. Kissinger’s contacts over the weekend was Soviet Ambassador Anatoly I. Dobrynin but McCloskey sharply said “no comment” when asked if the Soviet government had been informed of the U.S. supply operation. “I wish it were possible to report success,” McCloskey said in speaking of U.S. diplomatic efforts. “I cannot do that.” He emphasized, however, that the “diplomatic channel is still alive.” and expressed the hope “it will be fruitful and a way will be found to bring the fighting to an end.” Meanwhile, however, no progress was indicated towards a resolution to that end at the UN Security Council in New York.
Reminded by newsmen that Dr. Kissinger had said in his news conference last Friday that when the Soviet support to the Arab nations reached “massive” extent the U.S. would take “a firm step” about it as the U.S. had done in other crises, McCloskey said that the U.S. reached its judgement in the last 48 hours that the Soviet airlift is indeed massive. But, he said, he would not attempt to issue any “declamatory” or “accusatory” judgement at this time. He noted that “we are in a position we were last week,” less in name calling than in reaching a diplomatic arrangement.” However, he said that the U.S. has been “firm in our diplomatic steps” as well, adding emphatically “make no mistake about that.” Asked if the Russians were cooperating in the U.S. diplomatic effort, McCloskey replied that “We are still in contact” with them and added that “our actions will be guided as they take place” in the Middle East. Asked if the U.S. is still favoring a cease-fire as of the lines of Oct. 6 or “in place” at present McCloskey refused to pin down the U.S. position, saying “Our view today may change” to meet the “views of someone else.”