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U.S. Plans $1.20 Billion to Beef Up Saudi Arabian Combat Battalions

Steps by Saudi Arabia to modernize its national guard may get a boost from the United States. The Pentagon said yesterday that under an extension of a 1973 agreement between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. some $1.20 billion has been earmarked by the U.S. to help organize, train and equip an additional Saudi Arabian light armor brigade of four combat battalions. According to a Pentagon spokesman, the U.S. is presently training and equipping four Saudi national guard mechanized battalions and is beginning a program to organize, train and equip a logistics battalion. Congress, which was informed about the additional aid, has 30 days to veto the proposal.

Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Jody Powell defended the Administration’s decision to sell up to 300 M-60 A-3 tanks to Jordan during a day-long briefing last Friday for 62 out of town editors, including the editors of the American Mizrachi Women and the Jewish Reporter of Framingham, Mass.

“We have a standing agreement with Jordan and though we disagree with Jordan on the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, that agreement still stands,” Powell said. “Besides, if we don’t supply the tanks to Jordan somebody else will and we’d prefer that not to happen. There’s no sense in cutting off our nose to spite our face.” The State Department said last week that the tanks will be sold on a-one-to-one basis to replace an old tank that Jordan is phasing out.

Sarah Shane, national president of American Mizrachi Women, strongly condemned the sale. “The obvious target for those tanks is Israel,” she charged. She urged the Carter Administration to reconsider equipping the Jordanian army “with these modern American weapons of war.”

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