US denies Saudi defense tie-in

The Pentagon has rejected as ''totally unfounded'' a report that the United States and Saudi Arabia have concluded a secret defense agreement, Monitor defense correspondent Stephen Webbe reports.

In a hastily called press briefing Monday, a Pentagon spokesman rejected an assertion in the Washington Post that the two countries would embark on ''a secret strategy to build surrogate bases in Saudi Arabia, equipped and waiting for American forces to use.''

The newspaper claimed that Maj. Gen. Charles L. Donnelly, former chief of the US military advisory group in Saudi Arabia, and Col. Fahd Abdullah, head of the Royal Saudi Air Force, had reached an oral understanding on the agreement iln February.

Insisting that the US and Saudi Arabia have concluded no formal defense agreements, a spokesman declared that the ''imputation'' in the article that the administration was trying to bypass Congress in trying to formalize a defense pact with Saudi Arabia was ''ludicrous.'' He suggested that the Post had confused contingency planning with reality.

Nevertheless Pentagon analysts fully expect the US to be granted basing facilities in Saudi Arabia should there be a Gulf war.

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