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Report Soviet Peace Proposal for Mideast Draws Mixed State Department Response

A reported Soviet proposal for a Mideast solution involving written Arab renunciations of belligerency drew mixed responses from State Department officials today. Some diplomats were encouraged by what they interpreted as evidence of Russian movement toward a demarche that would reduce tensions. But others were wary and cautioned that Moscow is seeking a political victory for the Arabs and is exploiting the issue for propaganda purposes.

Those skeptical of the sincerity of the Russian “peace offensive” pointed out that Moscow visualized only the unilateral withdrawal of Israeli forces without collateral Arab peace commitments and credible assurances of Israeli transit rights through the Suez Canal and Gulf of Aqaba.

When examined, the Soviet proposals do not indicate that the Arabs are prepared to enter into a meaningful and lasting peace agreement, officials said. Key aim of Moscow is the re-opening of the Suez Canal for Soviet munitions shipments to North Vietnam they noted.

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