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Gromyko. in Address to Soviet Parliament, Reiterates Withdrawal Demand

Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko reiterated before the Soviet Parliament today Russia’s insistence that Israel must withdraw from all occupied territories as a prerequisite for peace in the Middle East. He also proposed in an address to the Supreme Soviet that the Big Powers creates a nuclear-free zone in the Mediterranean.

He spoke on the eve of arrival in Moscow of United States Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Joseph Sisco, who will discuss the Mideast situation with top Soviet officials, probably including Mr. Gromyko in a continuation of the United States–Soviet dialogue which has been underway in Washington for several months. It appeared likely that Mr. Sisco and Kremlin leaders would discuss general disarmament. Mr. Gromyko’s proposal for a nuclear-free Mediterranean indicated that the topic of arms reduction probably would be discussed. No Middle East state at present is known to pos- sess nuclear weapons although it is generally conceded that Israel has the technical know-how to produce them. Israel has said it would stand by its pledge not to be the first nation to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East. The U.S. Sixth fleet which regularly patrols the Eastern Mediterranean is nuclear-armed. The Soviets have never said whether the large fleet they now have in the Mediterranean is nuclear armed but many sources believe it is. France is the only nuclear power on the Mediterranean Sea.

Mr. Gromyko also told the Supreme Soviet that the Soviet Union “would like to see the United States take a more realistic position rather than pursue a policy based on temporary considerations” in working out an Arab-Israeli settlement. He maintained that the Arabs were ready to settle but the “Israeli leaders are following a slippery road of unfounded ambition.” He emphasized, however, that the rights of all states. Including Israel, should be respected.

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