mubarak-hosni1The State Department denied today that it was concerned about the report that the Egyptian government has asked the Soviet Union to send 66 industrial experts to help at Egyptian factories.

“We don’t attach undue importance to this,” State Department deputy spokesman Alan Romberg said. He said that the Egyptians apparently needed some Soviet technicians to repair Soviet equipment in the factories.

However, the gesture was seen as an effort by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to restore ties with the Soviet Union broken last September when the late President Anwar Sadat expelled nearly 700 Soviet experts along with Soviet Ambassador Vladimir Polyakov.

Meanwhile, the State Department has labeled as “absurd” and “malicious” an Israeli newspaper report that the U.S. has held up foreign economic aid payments to Israel as punishment for its annexation of the Golan Heights.

Department spokesman Dean Fischer noted last Friday that for the last two years half the economic aid appropriated for Israel was provided by the end of December with the other half being made in two equal payments at the end of March and June. The same is true for the 1982 allocations, Fischer said. He said Israel received $403 million by the end of December and will receive the remaining $403 million in two equal payments.

Fischer conceded that a House-Senate conference committee, in authorizing foreign aid for Israel last month, urged that the payments be made within 30 days. But Fischer said the budget constraints that the U.S. government is operating under now would have made this difficult to do.