WASHINGTON (Dec. 16)
The State Department declined to comment today on a statement by Presidential Counselor Edwin Meese that the Reagan Administration would support U.S. arms sales to Jordan without the “quid pro quo” that King Hussein join the U.S., Israel and Egypt in negotiations for Palestinian self-rule on the West Bank and Gaza.
Meese made that statement in an interview published in the December 17 edition of the Long Island Jewish World. (See separate story, P.4.)
State Department deputy spokesman Alan Romberg replied to questions about Meese’s remarks by noting: “As the President has said, we are committed to the security at the states of the region (Middle East) including Jordan as well as Israel and it is under that commitment that we have long maintained and will continue to maintain collaboration with King Hussein’s government.” Hussein is due to meet with Reagan here December 21.
Romberg added that no formal request for U.S. arms has been received from the government of Jordan. Other sources reported today, however, that Hussein has requested two ultra-advanced weapons systems from the U.S. but the Administration plans to defer a decision on that request for the time being. The systems referred to are F-16 fighter bombers and mobile Hawk anti-aircraft missiles to augment the fixed-position earlier model Hawks already in Jordan’s arsenal.
According to the source, the Administration will probably offer to sell Jordan two squadrons of F-20 jet fighters and a number of shoulder-fired “Stinger” anti-aircraft missiles. The F-20, manufactured by Northrup Aviation, is an advanced version of the F-5G fighters which have been in the Jordanian air force for several years.
Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee is preparing to vote on a continuing resolution to fund the $2.6 billion in U.S. economic and military aid for Israel for fiscal year 1983 which it approved last week.
The continuing resolution is a temporary measure necessary because the House is not expected to act on a foreign aid appropriations bill of its own before Congress adjourns on December 17. The Senate aid bill is expected to be brought to the floor for a full vote by tomorrow.