Washington (Mar. 18)
The Reagan Administration has replied to criticism of its refusal to link Israel with the shelling by Christian forces in south Lebanon Monday that inflicted casualties on United Nations peace-keeping personnel by citing “many terrorist attacks” on Israel and observing that the Middle East situation is “very complicated.”
State Department spokesman William Dyess was asked yesterday why the U.S. had condemned the shelling by Maj. Saad Haddad’s forces as “outrageous actions” but refused to condemn Israel which allegedly supplied Haddad with weapons.
“The position in the Middle East is very complicated,” Dyess said. “Israel has been subject to many, many terrorist attacks and we try to look at the Israeli situation with that very much in mind. I’m not going to spell out to you here our position in this matter. That will be done in the UN Security Council,” he said.
The Security Council has been asked by Secretary General Kurt Waldheim to take up the matter of Haddad’s shelling which killed two soldiers of the Nigerian contingent of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and wounded II other Nigerian troops and nine Lebanese army regulars and civilians.
Discussing another Middle East matter, Dyess confirmed that the U.S. has informed Saudi Arabia of its willingness to supply that country with surveillance aircraft “of a type and number to be determined.” He said Saudi Arabia requires the equipment for “protection of its oilfields” but no decision has been made and he does not know when the matter will be reported to Congress.
Dyess said U.S. military personnel are in Saudi Arabia to train the Saudis in the use of equipment purchased from the U.S. Questioned about a report that some 300 Americans are in that country with American AWACS surveillance planes, Dyess said he would check into the report.