WASHINGTON (Jul. 29)
The State Department announced today that it will resubmit without change to Congress in September its notification that the Administration plans to sell Jordan a $350 million air defense system. “We are going to be resubmitting the same notification on the Hawks sale that has been before the Congress and there has been no change,” Department spokesman Robert Anderson told reporters.
But Anderson indicated that the Administration will try to negotiate with Jordan to reduce the amount of arms she will receive to meet Congressional objections that the proposed deal is too large. “We will continue to discuss this question with the Jordanian government and with the Congress when it returns from its recess in the hope that this problem will be resolved,” Anderson said. He noted that U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering returned to Jordan over the weekend.
The Administration withdrew its letter outlining the deal yesterday only hours before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was to vote on whether it objected to the proposed sale. Earlier, the House International Relations Committee had voted unanimously to reject the sale.
NEED MORE TIME TO WORK OUT PROBLEM
Sen. Clifford P. Case (R.NJ), a member of the Senate committee, who announced the Administration’s move yesterday, called it “wise” because, he said, both the House and Senate committees had “developed evidence that such a sale (of “Hawks”) was excessive.” Case had led the Congressional negotiations with the State Department in an effort to reduce the number of “Hawk” ground-to-air missile batteries from 14 to six. But the Administration refused a compromise after King Hussein of Jordan declared that if he did not receive the full amount of weapons he would seek arms elsewhere.
Anderson said today that “What we did yesterday is to afford further time following the recess to try to work out this problem with the Jordanian government and with top Congressional officials.” He added that “it was agreed by both sides that we need more time to work out problems that exist with the government of Jordan.” Anderson said Congress would have the full 20 days in September to reconsider the proposed sale. “We will, if necessary, be prepared to resubmit the same letter of offer,” he said.
In response to a question, Anderson admitted that the State Department was “surprised” by the strong objections in Congress to the sale. Congressional opponents of the sale charged that it would upset the military balance in the Mideast. But the State Department spokesman tried to dash cold water on the reports that Gen. George S. Brown, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in his closed-door testimony last week to the Foreign Relations Committee, said the Joint Chiefs agreed that Jordan needed only six “Hawk” batteries, not 14 for defensive purposes.
Anderson said he has not seen Brown’s testimony “but I understand that the reporting that has come out on Gen. Brown’s testimony may not be entirely accurate. I understand that there has been no difference of opinion between the Department of Defense and the State Department with regard to the letter of offer.” Anderson declared. Brown was not available for immediate comment.