Kuwait angling for more arms from Moscow?
Moscow — A military delegation from Kuwait, the only moderate Arab oil state that has diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, has been on an unannounced visit to Moscow, Soviet and Arab sources have disclosed.
The Arab sources said the team left July 8 after spending about two weeks in the Soviet Union and had met military officials here, the second Arab delegation to do so in as many weeks.
In late June the No.2 man in the Libyan leadership, Abdel Salaam Jalloud, met senior military officials during a visit here.
Although details on Mr. Jalloud's talks remain sketchy, one Soviet source has said privately that arrangements were made for further arms sales to Libya. In recent years the Libyans have used their oil revenues to purchase enormous stocks of Soviet military equipment.
Kuwait, however, is quite a different case.Folowing a December 1975 visit here by the country's foreign minister, the Kuwaitis have made limited military purchases from the Soviet Union. They were the first moderate Gulf state to do so.
But when Foreign Minister Sabah Al-Sabah made a return trip to Moscow earlier this year, Kuwaiti sources said this did not presage further military cooperation. The assumption among foreign diplomats is that this may have changed and that the kuwaitis were here to discuss possible further military purchases.
One generally well informed Arab suorce said he understood that the delegation had looked at various Soviet military equipment during the visit.
Although further Kuwaiti arms sales would not seem likely to delight a US administration pledged to curbing Soviet influence in the Mideast, neither would it necessarily mark a radical departure in Kuwaiti policy.
The Kuwaitis consider themselves nonaligned, a claim backed by their relatively good relations with both superpowers and their public opposition to Mideast meddling by either.
Kuwait has bought military equipment for its modest armed forces from various Western sources as well as surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missiles from Moscow.
The reported visit by the Kuwaitis to Moscow comes as Iraq and iran continue to wage war literally next door, and follows reports of at least two Iranian Air Force sorties against Kuwait. The Kuwaitis have publicly backed Iraq in the conflict.