LONDON (Jul. 7)
A new Soviet peace plan for the Middle East is being presented to the United States this week, according to diplomatic sources in Moscow. Reports from the Soviet capital said that Ambassador Anatoly F. Dobrynin is presenting the plan to the United States Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Joseph J. Sisco at their meetings in Washington. The sources said that the Soviet plan takes into account proposals advanced by the United States more than a week ago. There has been no official disclosure of the details of either the Russian or the American plans. Diplomats in Moscow said the new movement to break the three year Mideast impasse is keeping Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser in Moscow pending its outcome. President Nasser was supposed to have returned to Cairo on Monday to attend to pressing business but has postponed his departure for ten days, the sources said. The Egyptian leader has held two rounds of talks with Premier Alexel N. Kosygin, President Nikolai V. Podgorny and Soviet Communist Party chief Leonid I. Brezhnev. A joint communique that was supposed to have been issued yesterday was postponed, reportedly until Thursday. The trend of the latest Sisco-Dobrynin talks may influence its content, it was reported today from Moscow. Meanwhile Col. Nasser is marking time at a luxurious estate outside of Moscow. He was reportedly receiving medical treatment for diabetes and sciatica.
Diplomatic sources here said today that the Soviet military escalation in Egypt may be intended to force the re-opening of the Suez Canal by helping Egypt regain the east bank, under Israeli occupation since 1967. This may be the strategic intent behind the reported advance of the Soviet-made Egyptian missile defense system toward the canal, the sources said. Moscow is said to be determined to re-open the blocked waterway which would shorten the sea trip to North Vietnam by 38 days. The Soviets are anxious to establish their naval presence in the Indian Ocean as a counterforce to Communist China but this is made difficult by the continued shut down of the canal. According to diplomatic sources here the Kremlin leaders are not deliberately seeking a showdown with the United States in the Mideast, or even with Israel. But they regard their position in Egypt as the key to their influence both in the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean and are determined not to retreat. Therefore they are genuinely seeking some kind of agreement with the United States for a Mideast solution. But at the same time they are master-minding Egypt’s aerial defense system, providing both the equipment and the operational know-how.