WASHINGTON (May. 15)
The State Department acknowledged today that the U.S. has no written assurances from the government of Saudi Arabia on its use or stationing of the 60 F-15 warplanes promised them by President Carter. The acknowledgement came as the Senate was engaged in a crucial all-day debate on President Carter’s plane sales deal. (See separate story P.3.)
“I am not aware of anything in writing,” the State Department’s chief spokesman, Hodding Carter, said in reply to a question by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency related to an apparent conflict between remarks by Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faud and Defense Secretary Harold Brown’s letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week.
Faud said that Saudi Arabia itself would decide where it will base the planes. Opponents of the proposed sale have noted that the Saudis are building an air base at Tabuk, only 10 minutes flight from Israel. Brown had given assurances that the planes would not endanger Israel.
“The Saudis have informed us of the assurances in Brown’s letter are the assurances on which they stand, ” the State Department spokesman said. “The assurances were made public, “he added, and were “offered on the basis of communications with us on several levels.” He did not disclose which officials were involved. “We negotiated with them,” he said and pointed out the stipulations on the U.S. sale of weapons abroad are that they can be used in self-defense and may not be transferred without “express” U.S. “consent.”
In response to other questions by the JTA, Hodding Carter said the U.S. has not received any information from Egypt suggesting the proposal by Egyptian Ambassador Ashraf Ghorbal for creation of a world-wide fund to develop the Middle East with “priority to the development of a new Palestinian state linked to Jordan.”
Speaking at Anselm’s College commencement in Goffstown, N.H. yesterday, Ghorbal called for a “peace fund” of “billions of dollars” with the U.S. and Saudi Arabia “and her other donor sister nations” topping the list of contributors. The fund, he said, would be used in the area to “raise the standard of living of all its people.”