BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Former President Gerald Ford said Wednesday the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat makes the sale AWACS planes to Saudi Arabia more imperative than ever for stability in the Middle East.
Ford also said predicted in a news conference that the death of Sadat, a staunch U.S. ally, will require the administration to strengthen ties with other Arab nations and not alienate moderate Arab states like Saudi Arabia.
'In view of the tragic event in Cairo and the loss of President Sadat, I believe it is now even more important for the Congress to approve President Reagan's proposed sale of AWACS aircraft,' Ford said.
'I share the president's conviction that the sale does not adversely affect Israel's security.'
Ford said he thought the congressional vote on the proposed Saudi arms package would be very close, but said Sadat's death may have enhanced its chances for approval.
The former president, who will attend Sadat's funeral as a member f th U.S. delegation Saturday, said he thought Egypt is a stable country and will not be thrown into chaos with Sadat's death. But he warned that the days ahead will be 'a period of great uncertainity.'
'Egypt is the largest Arab state both in territory and population,' he said. 'As long as we had Anwar Sadat as a strong ally, there was a stable influence in the Middle East. Now we need to get all the friends we can among the Arabs to insure stability in the region.'