TEL AVIV (Oct. 21)
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense William Clements confirmed today four of the items on Israel’s military purchase list approved by President Ford last week Clements and his party of military experts and ranking officers departed for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia today after three days of conferences with top Israeli political and military leaders.
Two of the items that Israel will receive are already in use by Israel’s armed forces–the M-60 heavy tank and 155 mm Howitzers. The new items are air-fuel cluster bombs, sometimes referred to as concussion bombs, and infra-red sensor systems for night fighting, known as FLIR Clements did not refer to the Hellfire anti-tank missiles which have not yet been introduced into the American arsenal. He said Israel would get delivery of the requested items in due time but reiterated that some weapons will take up to three years for delivery.
MUTUAL ACCORD SEEN POSSIBLE
He also told newsmen today that he saw no reason why a mutually advantageous agreement for the co-production of parts for the new American F-16 jet fighter in Israel could not be reached. Clements reportedly had discussed that matter at a meeting with Premier Yitzhak Rabin in Jerusalem Tuesday but apparently no agreements were reached. His talk with Rabin was said to have covered the balance of power in the Middle East, Israel’s ability to deter an Arab attack and the current purchasing list.
Earlier, Clements met in a closed meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Shimon Peres which was attended by U.S. Ambassador Malcolm Toon. Questioned afterwards about the delivery timetable, the U.S. Defense Department official stressed that buying weapons was not like visiting a grocery where needed items can be taken off the shelf. Clements and his aides also met with Israeli Chief of Staff Gen. Mordechai Gur.
They extended their stay in Israel for an additional day, leaving this morning instead of at noon Wednesday as originally scheduled. The extra day was devoted to more talks and visits to Massada, Sde Boker and the Golan Heights where the Americans were accompanied by Gen. Gur. Asked by reporters at Ben Gurion Airport today about reports of a 30,000-man Arab army to be sent to keep the cease-fire in Lebanon, Clements said he doubted the number was correct but that he would look into the reports.