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Voa Station Signals Deeper Ties Between U.s., Israel: Reagan

President Reagan and Israeli Communications Minister Gad Yaacobi stressed the growing partnership of the United States and Israel last week as the two countries signed an agreement for the building of a Voice of America relay station in the Negev.

“With this signing our special historic relationship will be given another dimension,” Reagan said after the White House signing ceremony.

Yaacobi declared that the agreement “will open a new page to a higher stage of friendship and partnership between the United States and Israel.”

Reagan said that “we owe the government of Israel much gratitude” for allowing the relay station to be built in the Arava section of the Negev, south of the Dead Sea.

The President spoke only in general terms about the U.S.-Israel relationship as a result of what he called “Israel’s fine gesture.”

Yaacobi was more specific in his remarks as he noted that the U.S. and Israel have been able to solve their occasional differences “in a way which increased our mutual commitments.”

“Let us depart from the immediate shadows that cover the horizon,” Yaacobi said. “Let us raise our eyes toward the future maintaining free democracies, strengthening our deterrent abilities and national security, fighting terrorism, doing our utmost toward real progress for peace by bringing together to the negotiating table Jordan, the Palestinian Arabs and Israel, creating the foundation for a Mideast common market, building a growing and stable economy in Israel, and maintaining and deepening the friendship and cooperation between Israel and the United States.”

DEBATED IN ISRAEL

The relay station was a source of controversy in Israel when the U.S. first proposed it two-and-a-half years ago. Many in Israel feared it might harm the cause of Soviet Jewry since it will allow enhanced broadcasting to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe by the VOA and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

The relay station will be on 2500 acres and is expected to take five years to be built. It will have up to 16,500-kilowatt transmitters, 22 antennas and a satellite earth station.

The new facility will also enhance VOA transmission to Africa and Central Asia. It is part of a worldwide modernization program by the VOA which also includes sites in Thailand, Srilanka, Botswana and Morocco.

Charles Wick, director of the U.S. Information Agency, presided over the White House ceremony. Among those attending from Israel was Amnon Rubinstein, who was Minister of Communications during most of the negotiations for the relay station.

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