SALE OF ARMS TO THE MIDDLE EAST
Q. Mr. President, on the Middle East, you recently said we will not hesitate to supply arms to friendly states as the need arises.
Has the sale of 100 jets to Libya by the French caused an imbalance in the Mideast arms situation, enough so that the United States should now expedite the sale of additional jets to Israel?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, Mr. Jarriel [Thomas Jarriel, ABC News], the problem of the sale of arms to Libya has been one that does concern us. As you know, that involves our relations also with the French Government. Now, one encouraging thing that has happened since we came into office is some improvement in our relations with the French.
One of the reasons that those relations have improved--and that improvement began when I visited President de Gaulle last February--is that we have had better consultation and discussion with regard to our differences, and those differences exist primarily in two areas, our policies toward the Mideast and our policies toward NATO.
President Pompidou will be here next month, and I will be discussing a number of problems with him. I would not want to speculate now as to what I will be discussing with him, except to say that all of those differences, naturally, will be on the table.
As far as our own policy toward the Mideast is concerned--a question which was the latter part, incidentally, of Miss Thomas' question--as far as our own policy toward the Mideast is concerned, let me put one thing in context: I have noted several recent stories indicating that the United States one day is pro-Arab and the next day is pro-Israel. We are neither pro-Arab nor pro-Israel. We are pro-peace. We are for security for all the nations in that area. As we look at this situation, we will consider the Israeli arms request based on the threats to them from states in the area and we will honor those requests to the extent that we see--we determine that they need additional arms in order to meet that threat. That decision will be made within the next 30 days.
Sources: Public Papers of the President