WASHINGTON (Dec. 18)
The U.S. Defense Department has sent a delegation to Saudi Arabia and three other countries to negotiate for access for American military forces to bases in the Middle East.
While Defense Secretary Harold Brown said last Sunday that “I don’t believe that American bases as such in that area are the right way to go” and that “nor do I see formal alliances,” he left the way open for the U.S. use of bases when countries having them ask for “our help.”
Robert Murray a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense who specializes in Middle Eastern of fairs, left Sunday on the trip that will include Oman, Kenya and Somalia. Pentagon sources said that besides the four countries named in the Murray itinerary the Defense Department is studying possibilities for negotiating with Israel, Egypt and Morocco for rights to use bases in an emergency.
Some Senators have suggested the U.S. arrange to take over the bases in Sinai that Israel is to give Egypt in 1981 under the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. Use of bases is understood to be in connection with the development of a U.S. Rapid Deployment Force to move as many as 100,000 men quickly to a developing war anywhere in the world. Pentagon sources emphasized that Murray’s trip is a continuation of efforts mode before the Iranian crisis but it is believed that the crisis has expedited the need for such an arrangement.