LONDON (Apr. 22)
King Hussein, of Jordan is seeking Russian arms for the first time, it was reported here yesterday. The Hashemite monarch, one of the few pro-Western rulers remaining in the Arab world, has made indirect requests through Egypt for Soviet anti-aircraft guns, the reports said. Heretofore the United States and Britain have been Jordan’s main arms suppliers on the ground and in the air. The Soviet press attache in Jordan, George Sukhatchev, meanwhile has denied he said Soviet policy favored the liquidation of the State of Israel and its replacement by a “democratic state in Palestine” with an Arab majority. The denial was promptly backed by a Soviet Foreign Ministry official in Moscow who said there has been no change in Russian Middle East policy and that no Soviet Embassy official could have made the statement attributed to Sukhatchev.
But newsmen who attended a press conference Sunday called by Sukhatchev insisted that he had indeed made the remark and elaborated on it. They quoted the Soviet official as having said that his government “supports any struggle aimed at overthrowing any racialist state based on religious fanaticism such as the state of Golda Meir.” In addition, according to the newsmen, Sukhatchev attributed Moscow’s recognition of the State of Israel in May, 1948 to a desire “to get the British out of Palestine.” He said he supported a statement by the Soviet Charge d’Affairs in Baghdad Felix Fedotov, circulated by the Iraqi news agency Saturday, that the Soviet people supported the elimination of Zionism and the creation of an Arab Palestinian state in place of Israel. Mr. Sukhatchev claimed yesterday that he never heard of Fedotov or his reported statement, that he called a press conference in Amman on the occasion of the Lenin Centenary which was not relevant to the reported remarks on the Mideast question. But the Reuter correspondent in Amman who first reported Sukhatchev’s alleged remarks said they were confirmed by another Arab journalist who attended the press conference. The latter reportedly checked the specific remark with Sukhatchev by phone later and was allegedly told to delete it from his dispatches and stick to generalities, the Reuters man said.