LONDON (Dec. 15)
Russia, speaking through the Communist Party newspaper Pravda, made its first public response–a negative one–yesterday to United States proposals for a Middle East settlement enunciated in Washington last week by Secretary of State William P. Rogers. Mr. Rogers’ speech disclosed the contents of proposals submitted privately to the Soviets last Oct. 28 to which Moscow has not officially replied.
According to Pravda, Mr. Rogers was trying to undermine Arab unity and camouflage America’s continued support for Israel. Writing in Pravda’s weekly commentary on international affairs, Vladimir Mikhailov said, “Washington, it is true, is now trying to erase from the Arabs’ memory the facts of its complicity in the Israel aggression. But whatever tricks Washington propagandists now resort to, they will fail to conceal the evident facts of the United States support to the Israeli ruling circles in their aggressive actions, in their stubborn attempts to annex the seized territories in spite of the demands voiced by world opinion.”
“The latest developments show,” Mr. Mikhailov went on,” that the United States ruling circles are sticking to their one-sided and obviously anti-Arab stand. Justified apprehension is being voiced in the Arab countries that the wish of the American propagandists to divert attention from Washington’s policy of encouragement of the aggression is aimed at disguising Washington’s attempt to sow strife and discord in the Arab world,” the Pravda writer said.
Mr. Rogers’ speech aroused consternation in the Israel Government by proposing that Israel withdraw from virtually all occupied Arab territories in return for an Arab commitment to a binding peace. Mr. Rogers stated further that the U.S. envisioned Jerusalem as a united city but with a religious, civic and administrative role for Jordan as well as Israel. Israeli leaders promptly accused the Secretary of State of undermining their bargaining position by introducing issues that rightfully belonged to negotiations between Israel and the Arab states.
The Rogers speech was also received coldly in Arab capitals. As a result. Western observers did not expect a positive response from Moscow. It is believed that Soviet leaders gave assurances on that count to the top level Egyptian delegation that visited Moscow last week. The Russians are believed determined to preserve their influence in the Arab world. But they continue to talk in terms of a political solution to the Middle East conflict and apparently were not swayed by reported Egyptian efforts to bring them to a more militant posture. The Soviets were expected to make a strong effort to create Arab unity at the Arab summit conference that opens at Rabat, Morocco, Dec. 20. Western eye” were also turned on Rabat. The U.S. State Department said after the Rogers speech that the Secretary hoped his words would reduce the intensity of anti-American statements that are expected to be made at Rabat.