President Carter asked Congress yesterday for nearly $2 billion in economic-related security assistance for key countries in the Middle East, Africa and the eastern Mediterranean.
The bulk of the request would help the economics of Israel ($785 million) and Egypt ($75 million), because "the pursuit of peace and of economic progress are intertwined," Harold Saunders, assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, told a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee.
The Middle East package also includes $93 million for Jordan, $90 million for Syria, $50 million for Jordan Valley irrigation projects, $5 million for a Middle East contingency fund, and $3 million for private voluntary agencies to aid the populations of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
"The economies of each of these countries have suffered from a common disruption: the diversion of resources and the impediment to growth that are consequences of the Arab-Israeli conflict," Saunders said.
"At this moment, as the countries of the Middle East contemplate their futures and attitudes toward the peace process, it is of utmost importance that the United States continue to display its readiness to assist them in meetings their economic development goals."
The proposals for Africa include $38.4 million in foreign military sales credits, $3.85 million for military training and $45 million for security supporting assistance. The third category is directed at economic development plans.