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State Dept. Mum About Reports of a Secret U.s.-israel Agreement

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The State Department refused to comment today on reports that President Reagan has signed a secret agreement, including U.S. military aid to Israel in 1986. However, it stressed that the U.S. was committed to maintaining Israel’s “qualitative military edge.”

Department spokesman John Hughes noted that the Administration is still working on the 1985 budget and has not even begun considering figures for the 1986 fiscal year. “Of course, our commitment to Israel’s qualitative edge in the region is well known and we remain prepared to make our best effort, subject to Congressional authorization and appropriation, to meet Israel’s military assistance needs,” Hughes said.

Israel Radio reported yesterday that Reagan added a secret annex to the Israel aid requests promising to “show understanding of Israel’s defense needs and fix appropriate military aid.” The document was given to Premier Yitzhak Shamir and Defense Minister Moshe Arens last week, according to Israel Radio

Both Israel and the U.S. have denied any secret agreement were made during Shamir’s visit to Washington at which the U.S. and Israel agreed to have close military cooperation.

Israel is to receive $1.7 billion in military aid in the 1984 fiscal year which began last October 1, half of which is a grant, and $910 million in economic aid, all of it a grant. It was reported last week that Israel will receive $1.4 billion in military aid in the 1985 fiscal year, less than this year, but all of it a grant.

Hughes noted last week that the U.S. is considering making all of its military aid on a grant basis with the percentage of grant to loan being worked out on a country-by-country basis.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Kamal Hassan Ali, was in Washington today, apparently discussing the aid question, too. Egypt is to receive $1.3 billion in military aid this year, of which $450 million is a grant. It reportedly will get $1.1 billion in fiscal 1985, all a grant.

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