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U.S. to Israel: Be 'responsible' on weapons systems to China

SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Monday, December 20, 2004

The United States has urged Israel and the European Union to take "a responsible approach" regarding the sale of defense equipment and technology to China.

The Bush administration expressed concern over the prospect of an Israeli or EU sale of defense equipment to China. A White House statement said the United States has approached both of its allies.

"We have long expressed our concerns about the sale of defense equipment and technology to China," the White House said on Dec. 17. "We continue to raise those concerns with our friends and allies and others, and look for them to take a responsible approach."

It was the first time since 2000 that the administration publicly raised concern over Israeli defense sales to China. The statement came two days after Israeli officials acknowledged a dispute with the Defense Department over the refurbishing of an unidentified military system sold to Beijing in the early 1990s.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan did not elaborate on the statement. He said U.S. policy on arms sales to China was meant to "ensure the safety and protection of U.S. and coalition forces and our civilian populations."

Pentagon officials have acknowledged a dispute with their Israeli counterparts regarding defense projects in China. Officials said Israel appears to have upgraded a major weapons system that was never reported to the United States until mid-2004.

In 2000, the United States pressured Israel into suspending the sale of the Phalcon airborne early-warning alert and control system to China. McClellan said the administration appreciated Israel's decision to cancel the Phalcon.

"We believe Israel and European Union members share this fundamental concern and will make the right decisions," McClellan said.


Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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