WASHINGTON (Oct. 22)
Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei A. Gromyko got a cool reception from some 40 Jewish students protesting the treatment of Jews in Russia when he arrived at the White House this morning for a meeting with President Richard M. Nixon that was to last more than two-and-a-half hours. The youngsters from universities in the Washington area, carrying placards, reading “Free Three Million Jews Now” and “Let My People Go,” provided more substance for the nation’s news mills than White House Press Secretary Ronald D. Ziegler when he emerged tight-lipped after the Gromyko-Nixon talks to say that they were “helpful.” The President and the Soviet diplomat met from 11 a.m. to 1:35 p.m. According to one source it was probably Mr. Nixon’s longest meeting with a top foreign political figure since he entered the White House. The talks began in the Oval Room where Mr. Nixon was flanked by Secretary of State William P. Rogers and White House national security adviser, Dr. Henry A. Kissinger. Mr. Gromyko was accompanied by the Soviet Ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly F. Dobrynin. Afterwards the two principals went to the Executive Office Building to talk privately.
Mr. Ziegler said that the President and Mr. Gromyko had discussed U.S.-USSR relations, European security, the SALT talks, the Middle East and Vietnam, “not necessarily in that order.” He declined to say which topic took up most time. He said Mr. Gromyko’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly yesterday was not discussed “to my knowledge” and that a U.S.-Soviet summit meeting was “not on the agenda.” President Nixon is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York tomorrow afternoon. It was understood that his speech, which is expected to last a half hour or less, would deal in part with the Mideast, but that would not be the major topic. The Soviet Foreign Minister had harsh words to say about U.S. Mideast policy before the UN forum yesterday afternoon although he reportedly spoke in much more conciliatory tone at an unprecedented closed meeting of the Security Council last night. A State Department official, commenting today on Gromyko’s UN General Assembly speech, said the Russians take the position that they are not responsible for truce violations by Egypt but they have not denied that violations took place. He noted that Mr. Gromyko said charges that Moscow had violated “some kind of terms of the cease-fire” was “nothing but pure fabrication” but said nothing of Egyptian violations.
Referring to today’s talks between the American and Soviet leaders, Mr. Ziegler told newsmen, “For our part the discussions were helpful. The meeting was conducted in a friendly atmosphere throughout. It is felt the meeting was helpful for laying improved relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. The meeting was useful from the standpoint that it allowed the President to give the Foreign Minister personal and direct expressions on the subjects discussed.” The youthful protestors, representing the Washington Council for Release of Captive Russian Jewry. the latest of many groups that have formed in recent months to demand better treatment for Soviet Jews, assembled in Lafayette Park facing the White House to await Mr. Gromyko’s arrival. They raised their placards and their voices when his limousine showed up but the demonstration was peaceful. According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s Washington correspondent, there were a good many policemen and reporters for news media on hand and a few spectators.