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Kohl Says Saudi Arms Deal Will Proceed Despite Israelis’ Objections

Chancellor Helmut Kohl was on his way back to Bonn tonight after ending a five-day official visit to Israel without a joint statement by the two countries or a farewell ceremony at the airport where he was seen off by Premier Yitzhak Shamir, Defense Minister Moshe Arens and other officials.

Kohl, and Deputy Foreign Minister Alois Mertes, who accompanied him on his visit to Israel, both stated in separate interviews with West German television in Jerusalem Friday that the arms deal with Saudi Arabia will proceed regardless of Israeli objections. Bonn’s plans to sell sophisticated weapons to the Saudis was the main point of contention between Kohl and Shamir during the Chancellor’s stay in Israel.

Kohl, after reviewing the Israeli position, said “We have heard their arguments, but decisions on that matter are taken in Bonn, not in Jerusalem,” Mertes told the interviewer, “Whatever happens, I want to make perfectly clear one can rely on our word.” He was alluding to speculation that Bonn might drop its arms sales commitment to the Saudis. Both he and Kohl had stressed to the Israelis that a promise once made could not be withdrawn. (Separate Story, P.3.)

Meanwhile, editorial opinion here was critical of Kohl’s conduct in Israel. According to Die Welt, his “unembarrassed manner” and “unselfconsciousness” went too far. The Munich-based neo-Nazi National Zeitung criticized the Chancellor for alleged failure to oppose Israeli attempts to use the past for “political blackmail.”

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