The United States has not asked Oman for permission to land the 1,800 US Marines now aboard a four-ship amphibious force due shortly in the Arabian Sea, Pentagon spokesman Thomas Ross said March 13. Reports from the Middle East had said earlier that the Marine amphibious unit was bound for Oman's Masirah Island in the Arabian Sea.
US State and Defense Department officials have been negotiating for increased use of air and naval facilities in Masirah and other points in Oman, Somalia, and Kenya, Monitor correspondent John K. Cooley reports.
On Thursday the Marines were making a port call to Singapore, their last stop en route to the Iran-Afghanistan crisis area. The US naval task force there now includes 26 ships, following arrival of the destroyer Byrd and a frigate through the Suez Canal. The Soviet force in the area includes 30 ships.