Peres on Way to Washington for Meeting with Rumsfeld; Will Seek Clarification on U.S. Arms Items

Defense Minister Shimon Peres left for Washington today for a meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Israel’s military needs. He told reporters at Ben Gurion Airport that there have been no delays in the delivery of arms supplies from the U.S. but that there are certain items that needed clarification and re-checking. Israel’s interest in purchasing the new F-16 jet interceptor is expected to be one of the subjects Peres will raise with Rumsfeld.

The Defense Minister said that he would seek means to finance Israel’s military purchases which will amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. He hinted that he may meet with aides to President-elect Jimmy Carter on increased U.S. financial assistance to Israel after the new Administration takes office.

Peres had a closed meeting with Chief of Staff Gen. Mordechai Gur before leaving. Asked if his visit to the U.S. at this time meant that he expected no serious changes in the situation on Israel’s northern border, Peres replied that anything was possible. He said the situation in southern Lebanon indicated that the population there remained friendly to Israel and that southern Lebanon is presently the most peaceful area of that country. Peres attributed this to Israel’s show of strength and determination not to allow Syrian or PLO forces to enter the region. The Syrians took the hint, he said.

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