WASHINGTON (Oct. 17)
The State Department would not comment today on reports that Kuwait is transferring French-built Mirage fighter-bombers directly to Egypt but confirmed other reports that about 100 Kuwaitis are presently undergoing training in the United States, apparently in preparation for flight training on American A-4M Skyhawk fighter-bombers which the U.S. is expected to sell to Kuwait.
The State Department said in reply to questions that about 100 Kuwaitis are being taught English at the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Tex where they have been since Sept. 1973. Of the group, 54 were described as cadet pilots and the rest technical and maintenance personnel.
State Department sources this afternoon indicated that the U.S. would soon be selling Sky-hawks to Kuwait but said there was no decision on whether to sell Phantoms to the oil-rich Persian Gulf state. U.S. Phantoms and Skyhawks are the mainstay of Israel’s Air Force. The Skyhawk has been described as a plane never before sold to an Arab country.
TRANSFER OF PLANES TO BE STUDIED
In reply to another question, the State Department promised to look into the terms of the contract to sell Skyhawks to Kuwait to see if it contains any provision barring the transfer of these aircraft to a third nation. Press reports from Bahrain today said Kuwait will turn over a squadron of French Mirage F-1 fighter-bombers to Egypt before their delivery in view of the fact that France has ended its seven-year embargo on weapons sales to combatants in the 1967 Six-Day War.
The Kuwaitis are not training their own pilots to fly the Mirages, the reports said. The reports also mentioned a larger order of Mirages by Saudi Arabia which was conditioned on lifting the embargo so that the planes could be delivered directly to Egypt. Saudian and Jordanian pilots were reported more than a year ago to be undergoing training in the United States but information as to their number and location was not available today.
Questioned on another matter, the State Department said today that it knows of no request for visas by Yasir Arafat or other members of the Palestine Liberation Organization delegation that is to come to the United Nations in New York next month to participate in the General Assembly’s debate on the Palestine Question. However, several PLO members are already in New York.