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Report That Arabs Are Willing to Pay $400 M to Deny U.S. Military Aircraft Landing Rights on Azores

The State Department skirted outright confirmation or denial today of press reports that unnamed Arab governments have offered Portugal $400 million to deny landing rights to U.S. military aircraft on the Azores and offered to lift the oil embargo on Portugal in return, for such a move. The press reports were attributed to Pentagon intelligence sources. State Department spokesman Robert Anderson said the Department had “independent” and “official” reports on the press report and said it was awaiting further information from the U.S. Embassy in Lisbon.

During the Yom Kippur War, the American-built and leased air base at Lajes in the Azores was a stop-over and refueling station for giant C-5 military transports airlifting military equipment to Israel. The use of Portuguese soil for that purpose precipitated the Arab oil embargo against Portugal. The lease on Lajes expired last Feb. and negotiations for its renewal are to begin here Sept. 3. Anderson said today, “We’re going forward with those negotiations.”