WASHINGTON (Jul. 27)
The State Department confirmed today that “discussions are going forward” between key members of Congress and the Administration on a projected sale of military reconnaissance and transport planes to Egypt.
Department spokesman Hodding Carter said “this matter is currently being discussed with members of Congress.” But Carter declined to go into detail citing the “confidential” nature of the discussions. It was reported today that the Carter Administration, in an apparent gesture of support for Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, has privately informed key members of Congress that it would like to sell Egypt more than $200 million in military reconnaissance and transport planes.
According to news accounts, which cited State Department and Congressional sources, the Administration has informed Congress it would like to sell Egypt 14 C-130 Hercules military transports for ferrying troops and supplies, costing about $180 million; 12 pilot less reconnaissance drone aircraft costing about $30 million for use over the Sinai; and six sophisticated reconnaissance cameras for aircraft already in operation in Egypt at a cost of $7 million.
In addition, Egyptian military officers would be trained at staff level schools in the United States at a cost of $100,000.
BASIS FOR MOVE EXPLAINED
Commenting on the proposed sale, Hodding Carter noted that “President Sadat has ended his dependence on the Soviet Union and has expressed his desire to diversify Egyptian arms supplies. We see it clearly in our interest to assist him where possible.”
Supporters of Israel here have said they will not oppose the Administration’s request as long as it is limited to “non-lethal” equipment and does not include fighter planes and anti-tank missiles. They said they accepted the Administration’s need to maintain close ties with Egypt especially while peace efforts are currently underway.
The sale was seen as a show of support to Egyptian President Sadat on the eve of Secretary of State Cyrus Vance’s trip to the Middle East. Administration officials also explained that Egypt wanted the C-130s because its 30 Soviet transport planes are virtually useless because of age and lack of spare parts. Last year, the Ford Administration received approval from Congress to sell Egypt six C-130s after pledging not to seek additional sales to Egypt during the rest of 1976.