WASHINGTON (Sep. 4)
President Ford asked leaders of both parties in Congress today to adopt a joint resolution approving the stationing of up to 200 American civilians in the Sinai desert as part of the second Sinai accord between Israel and Egypt.
The President also indicated at a White House briefing, according to Sen. Robert Byrd (D.W.Va.) deputy majority leader in the Senate, that the foreign aid bill of assistance to Israel and its Arab neighbors will go to Congress after the issue of an American presence in the Sinai is settled by Congress. Byrd said that the aid package for Israel will total between $2.2 billion and $2.3 billion of which $1.5 billion will be in military assistance. No mention was made of the amount the U.S. will expend to provide oil for Israel but his will be included in the aid package.
The figure mentioned for Israel is about $1 billion less than the amount Israeli officials had indicated last month Israel would need for the current fiscal year. Byrd also disclosed that the aid package will include between $650 million and $800 million for Egypt. He said this would be “non-military” aid for now.
Byrd also said that no mention was made at the White House meeting of funds for Jordan and Syria but that Jordan insists on getting 14 Hawk missile installations, or it will go to the Soviet Union for assistance. Byrd said that this was stated by King Hussein in a letter to Sen. Mike Mansfield (D.Mont.), the Senate majority leader, and others.
SOVIET OBJECTIONS DEEMED NOT IMPORTANT
House Speaker Carl Albert (D.Okla.) and Byrd both indicated that Soviet objections to the second-stage Sinai agreement were not too important. Byrd said that he did not know whether the Soviet objections “are proforma or not. That remains to be seen. This could be expected. I don’t think this should be a factor of weighty consideration.” Asked what was next in the Middle East on the part of the U.S. Byrd said “there is no timetable,” He added, however, that it was clear that continuous political momentum is required and that “Egypt expects to get all of its territory back.”
Albert, who earlier had indicated reservations about the stationing of American civilians in the Sinai, said that he told the President that “I will support him on this.” He said it was a calculated risk but one worth taking.
Albert noted there was no discussion about civilian monitors on Israel’s frontiers with Syria and Jordan. Sen. John Sparkman (D. Ala.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger was scheduled to go into details on the agreements before his Committee later today. Kissinger arrived last night from his shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East and was welcomed by Ford who said Kissinger had “negotiated with great skill and with enormous diligence.”
NO SECRET AGREEMENTS
Sparkman and Byrd said that Kissinger assured the Congressional leaders that there were no secret agreements entered into by the United States with either side. He said that the unpublished undertakings were not presented at the meeting this morning but that some classified material will be presented to the Foreign Relations Committees of both House and Senate. Sparkman also said that the Senate Armed Services Committee may hold public hearings on Kissinger’s understandings.
Republican House leader John Rhodes of Arizona told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that when the President had asked for an agreement by the Congress on the U.S. presence in the Sinai within two weeks, “there was no demurrer.”
Presidential press secretary Ron Nessen said today that telegrams of support for the U.S. presence in the Sinai have come to the White House from “some of the major Jewish organizations.”