Washington (Aug. 5)
President Reagan has made a strong pitch for Congress to approve the proposal to sell AWACS reconnaissance planes and enhancement equipment for F-15 jets to Saudi Arabia.
In a letter to leaders of the House and Senate, Reagan urged members of Congress, as they prepared to go on their summer recess, not to “prejudge” the proposed sale which is expected to be submitted to Congress after Labor Day.
“I am aware that information from a variety of sources has been circulating on Capitol Hill regarding the sale and that many members have been under some pressure to take an early position against it,” the letter dated yesterday said. “I hope that no one will prejudge our proposal before it is presented.”
The letter was sent to Senate majority leader Howard Baker (R. Tenn.), Senate minority leader Robert Byrd (D. W.V.), House Speaker Thomas O’Neil (D. Mass.) and House minority leader Robert Michel (R. III.). White House deputy press secretary Larry Speakes said Reagan sent the letter “to reaffirm” his intention to “proceed with the AWACS” sale. He denied that there was any connection with the visit today of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
“I am convinced that providing Saudi Arabia with this equipment will improve the security of our friends, strengthen our own posture in the region and make it clear to local governments and to the Soviet leader-
ship that the United States is determined to assist in preserving security and stability in southwest Asia,” Regan said.
Reagan noted that the Administration had not submitted the package up to now because of the “priority” the Administration has placed on its economic program and “the necessity of working out a set of understandings with the Saudi leadership which will ensure that the equipment provided will be employed to our mutual benefit and that the United States technology and systems will be fully protected.”