President Kennedy indicated at his press conference yesterday that the United States would ignore the Keating-Halpern amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act which opposes U.S. aid to nations like Egypt which use their own resources to buy Soviet arms. The amendment expressed the sentiment of Congress but is not mandatory or binding on the executive department.
The President said it was not a moral issue because some countries receive aid from both East and West. He stressed that the United States must make a judgment as to what serves the long-range interests of the United States and feels that American aid is consistent even if the nations buy Soviet arms, in that it helps them maintain sovereignty and independence.
Egypt was not specifically named but it was clear that Egypt, India and perhaps other countries were in the frame of reference of the question.
The Keating-Halpern amendment established the principle that America should concentrate on aiding nations that do not divert their own resources for purchase of Soviet military equipment. Rep. Seymour Halpern, New York Republican, who sponsored the amendment in the House, has formally requested President Kennedy, in connection with the coming appropriations measure, to prepare an explanation for Congress on “the whole perplexing question of why we ignore Israel’s military needs while indirectly subsidizing Egypt’s purchase of late-model Soviet jets, tanks, submarines, and so forth.”
Rep. Halpern said in a communication to President Kennedy that the arms imbalance between Israel and the Arab states “has reached a dangerous point where Nasser is tempted to consider reckless adventures.” He told Mr. Kennedy that “Israel is the only anti-Communist nation on earth, threatened by Soviet equipped forces, which has turned to us pleading for the right to purchase balancing arms and gotten no favorable response.”
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