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Report Austria Will Sell About 100 Tanks to Saudi Arabia

About 100 Austrian tanks, originally intended to go to Chile, will be sold instead to Saudi Arabia, the West German magazine, Der Spiegel, reported today. The sale to Chile by the tank manufacturer, Steyr-Daimler-Puch, fell through last year after widespread public protests forced the government to deny an export permit to that country, governed by a rightwing military dictatorship.

The manufacturer has since managed to interest the Saudis in buying most of the tanks, Der Spiegel said. Despite opposition in Parliament by members who consider the deal potentially dangerous to Israel, it is apparently supported by Foreign Minister Willipald Pahr. Der Spiegel quoted Pahr as observing that the Arabs are not engaged in a shooting war with Israel. The Foreign Ministry said Pahr made that remark in a general context over a month ago and was not referring to any specific arms deal.

In an unrelated development, the Court of Appeals here ruled Friday that the Communist daily, Volksstimme, was not guilty of libel when it branded as fascist the magazine Bundesturnzeitung, organ of the Oesterreichischer Turnerbund (OETB), a large Austrian sports club. The ruling brought to an end a two-year libel action against the Communist newspaper by the OETB. The OETB was appealing a decision against it by a Vienna press court last December.

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