WASHINGTON (Aug. 12)
The State Department welcomed today as “statesmanlike decisions” the announcements by the governments of Colombia and Uruguay that they would contribute troops for the multinational force to patrol the Sinai after Israel’s final withdrawal from the peninsula next April.
But Department spokesman Dean Fischer would not say what other countries are considering joining the 2,500-member Multinational Force and Observers (MFO). He said no announcement would be made until the entire MFO is completed.
Nicholas Veliotes, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, in testifying before Congressional committees last month, said the United States would provide more than 1,000 personnel to include one of three battalions and the observers. He said he expected another battalion would come from Latin America and the third from Asia. An American battalion is usually 800 to 900 men.
So far, in addition to Uruguay and Colombia, Fiji has announced it would send 500 men to the MFO. The Colombian government, in making its announcement yesterday, said it would send a battalion which, in the Colombian military system, also has from 800 to 900 men. Uruguay gave no figures-Fischer said today he did not know the total number of men the two Latin American countries would be sending.
The United States has been trying to put together the force, as required by the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, because it found that an effort to do it through the United Nations Security Council would result in a veto from the Soviet Union. However, many countries are reluctant to join the MFO without a UN imprimatur.
LEBANON WOULD ACCEPT ARMS FROM LIBYA
Meanwhile, Fischer had “no comment” on a report from Beirut that Premier Shafik Hazzan of Lebanon said that his country would accept an antiaircraft missile system from Libya. Hazzan reportedly said in Beirut yesterday that Lebanon would buy an anti-aircraft missile system from any country, either in the East or the West, to protect its territory from Israeli planes as long as Lebanon was in complete control of the missile batteries.