Tension in the Middle East grew Thursday (May 18) following reports of a new Soviet-Egyptian arms deal and an order by Egypt cutting the United States diplomatic staff in Cairo by half.
MV Portraits of Nasser and Sadat
SV Reporter asks question
SOUND STARTS: "There've been a number...."
SOUND ENDS: "...Thank you."
REPORTER: "There've been a number of reports in the Egyptian press over the past few days about the increased combat readiness of the Egyptian armed forces. Does this mean that the Egyptian armed forces are now in a better state--are nearly ready to fight an active war against Israel?"
DR. ZAYYAT: "I said in (INDISTINCT) they are better. If they are not better then they are worse. And I hope only that they are better. Whether they are ready to fight now or not ready to fight now is something that I cannot tell you about...I say again that if I knew I would not say it. But I can guess from the fact that we are occupied that we cannot re-occupy ourselves right now. Thank you."
Initials BB/0315 BF/PN/BB/0325
This film--shot with sound by Ken Ludlow--shows Dr. Zayyat being asked about the army's readiness for war and his answer.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Tension in the Middle East grew Thursday (May 18) following reports of a new Soviet-Egyptian arms deal and an order by Egypt cutting the United States diplomatic staff in Cairo by half.
The move came one week before President Nixon's scheduled visit to the Kremlin for talks with Soviet leaders, and followed the flight over Israeli occupied Sinai of two Soviet-built MIG-23 jets.
At a news conference on Thursday (May 18) the Egyptian Minister of State for Information, Dr. Mohammed Hassan Zayyat, was asked about the order reducing the U.S. diplomatic staff.
Dr. Zayyat said Egypt had done everything possible in its contacts with Washington for a Middle East peace.
He refused comment on reports of a new arms deal with the Soviet Union, and was evasive when asked about the army's combat readiness.