WASHINGTON (Nov. 13)
Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger has denied that he has opposed efforts by the Reagan Administration for strategic cooperation with Israel. “We have had Israel as a strong ally and a strategic working arrangement with them has been in effect for many years, almost since the creation of the State,” Weinberger said in response to questions at the Foreign Press Center here last Thursday. “There is no change whatsoever in that relationship,” he stressed.
There have been repeated published reports that Weinberger has sought to block Secretary of State George Shultz’s efforts for closer ties with Israel. No Defense Department official accompanied Under-secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger during his recent visit to Israel.
Weinberger said that he was puzzled by these charges. “What puzzles me is that the policy of military cooperation with Israel should be discussed as a new policy,” he said. “We have had a very large amount of military assistance and we had military cooperation with Israel since the formation of Israel.”
But the Defense Secretary seemed to be confirming his opposition within the Administration when he rejected the suggestion that Israeli Premier Yitzhak Shamir would be coming to Washington soon to discuss strategic cooperation. He said the upcoming visit was part of the normal relationship with Israel and no agenda has been set for the meeting.
However, a State Department official briefing reporters on Eagleburger’s visit to Israel, said Shamir was coming to Washington to continue discussions on strategic cooperation begun by Eagleburger in Jerusalem.