PARIS (Jun. 1)
Soviet intentions in the Middle East, as well as in Indo China and Berlin will be explored by French diplomats in a series of talks with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko which begin here tomorrow, it was learned today. The French are anxious to ascertain Soviet attitudes in the Mideast in view of the escalation of Moscow’s military commitment to Egypt. Mr. Gromyko’s visit here was described as the widest ranging and highest ranking encounters between France and the USSR since former President Charles de Gaulle visited Moscow in 1966. The talks will lay the groundwork for President Georges Pompidou’s visit to Moscow next fall.
France’s attempt to probe Soviet intentions in the Middle East will parallel a similar effort by the United States. The latter are expected to be made when high U.S. officials, probably including Secretary of State William P. Rogers, meet with Soviet Ambassador Anatoly F. Dobrynin in Washington this week. Mr. Rogers reportedly will question the Soviet envoy bluntly as to what his government’s intentions and aims are in the Mideast. During the past few months the U.S. has reported receiving only “imprecise” and unsatisfactory replies to such queries put to the Russians. Diplomatic sources here and abroad have hinted that the future of the Four Power–United States, Soviet Russia. Britain and France–Mideast talks may hinge on the replies the Western diplomats are able to elicit from the Russians. Future bi-lateral talks on the Mideast, such as those that have been going on in Washington between Mr. Dobrynin and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Joseph J. Sisco, may also be affected.