Defense Secretary Harold Brown said yesterday that the collapse of the government in Iran placed increasing importance on Saudi Arabia as a source of oil for the West.
Brown arrived in Amman, Jordan, for a two-day visit with King Hussein after completing a three-day trip to Saudi Arabia where he had promised new military aid and a greater U.S. role in ensuring the safety of Persian Gulf states.
Brown, acting as President Carter's personal representative, flew over three of Saudi Arabia's 40 oil fields and told reporters:
"Clearly, unless and until Iranian production can be restored, all the other sources of oil become more important. That merely strengthens the need for close ties between ourselves and Saudi Arabia."
The turmoil in Iran has caused a daily production loss of about 5 million barrels on the world market.
Concern over the safety of 5,000 Americans in Iran weighed on Brown as he flew to Jordan to hear expected requests from the king for more F5 fighters and armored personnel carriers.
A senior defense official aboard Brown's plane between Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and Amman said that the security of Americans "is our highest priority. We are going to do everything we can to maximize the security of Americans. Talking about it more than that does not maximize it."
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, after accepting renewed Camp David talks with Egypt, pledged to continue the struggle for peace.
In an article in the leading Brussels daily Le Soir, Begin said, "We envisage that this would be the first step toward a general peace settlement in the Middle East because that is what we want with all our heart."