WASHINGTON (Jan. 5)
Sen. Richard Lugar (R. Ind.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, predicted that because of what he called the “faltering” Middle East peace process, resolutions may be introduced “early on” in the Senate to reject the Reagan Administration’s proposed $1.9 billion arms sales to Jordan.
Lugar, at a press conference discussing foreign relations issues for the new year, said Friday the Foreign Relations Committee would hold a hearing on the Mideast peace process sometime in the first few weeks after Congress returns from its winter recess.
He noted that Congress has until March I to act on the Jordanian arms sale. This is the date to which a resolution by both Houses had postponed the sale, which the Administration had proposed October 21, unless “direct and meaningful peace negotiations between Israel and Jordan are underway.”
Lugar said he expected the Administration would propose an arms sale to Saudi Arabia this year, but said he would not speculate on his reaction until he saw the proposal.
The Indiana Senator appeared to place a great deal of responsibility for the lack of progress in the peace process on Syria, which he said was among those in the Mideast “who have not wanted that initiative to succeed.” He added, “The current negotiations (by Syria) with King Hussein have not been helpful.”
FORCE AGAINST TERRORISM NOT ADVISABLE
Lugar said the terrorist attacks at the Vienna and Rome airports December 27 may have been aimed at wrecking the peace process. He said that if the U.S. used force to retaliate, this would result in a “very serious setback” for the peace process, but noted it was already a “faltering process.”
However, Lugar supported the use of force if it’s necessary but urged the need for international cooperation against terrorism. He said there is a “change of mind in this country and it is becoming apparent in Europe” to support government action against terrorism “that may involve the loss of life.”
But he said there is not yet the realization that state-sponsored terrorism involves “nation-states, and nation-states must be held responsible.”
Lugar said he took “seriously” the threat by Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi against Americans if either Israel or the U.S. retaliates, but this should not prevent taking effective action. He said Libya reportedly had trained numerous terrorists and they will act whether there is action by the U.S. or not.
A resolution of the Palestinian issue may “relieve” the problem of terrorism but there are many Palestinian factions which will not accept the peace process and “might continue the attack,” Lugar noted.
On another issue, Lugar said the recent passage of the Gramm-Rudman Bill, which mandates a balanced budget, will have a “substantial impact” on foreign policy just as it will impact on domestic issues. He said foreign aid cuts may be required, but noted they will be “open to negotiations.” However, he said, the bill cosponsored by Senators William Gramm (R. Texas) and Warren Rudman (R. N.H.) will require cuts “across the board.”