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US military aid to Chad: a warning to Qaddafi

The first in a series of shipments of US military aid worth a total of $10 million arrived here Monday under tight security. According to a high-ranking US diplomat in N'Djamena, the first C-141 US aircraft carried ''essentially vehicles, including trucks and jeeps, as well as food and tents.'' Later shipments are expected to include small arms and ammunition.

Although both Western and Chadian officials here agree that the sum total of the aid agreement is small, the timing of its arrival - only days before President Hissein Habre is expected to launch his critical assault on the Libyan-backed rebel stronghold of Faya-Largeau - is considered to have great symbolic significance.

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US military aid is seen both as a tangible support for the besieged government of President Habre and as a warning to Libya's Colonel Qaddafi that further esclation of Libyan support for Goukhouni Woddei's rebels would be met with more American aid.

As a senior US diplomat here concluded, ''We believe that at this point $10 million will be sufficient to do the trick. We don't, however, rule out additional aid in the future because we cannot predict what Colonel Qaddafi will do.''

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