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Soviet Embassy Official Hedges; State Dep’t. Mum on Fulbright’s Attack on Israel

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A Soviet Embassy official told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that “Of course, we fully agree” with a charge by Sen. J. William Fulbright yesterday that certain small countries were resorting to “Communist-baiting humbugery” to manipulate American foreign policy in their favor. The Arkansas Democrat, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, mentioned Israel and South Vietnam in that context in an address to Yale University students. But Alexander Yefstafyev, press counselor at the Soviet Embassy here hedged when the JTA reporter pressed him to say whether he thought Israel was indulging in “Communist-baiting” as charged by Fulbright. “I better not comment,” Yefstafyev replied. State Department sources advised newsmen today that they “shouldn’t expect any practical response” to Fulbright’s charges from official quarters. The Department’s spokesman, Charles Bray, maintained a perfect record of “no comment” on the Fulbright statement and other Middle East related matters at today’s news briefing. He refused to say whether he agreed with Fulbright’s judgement that “Were it not for the fact that they are Communists–and therefore ‘bad’ people–while we are Americans–and therefore ‘good’ people–our (U.S. and Soviet) policies would be nearly indistinguishable” in the Middle East. Bray also refused to comment on Premier Golda Meir’s rejection yesterday of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s terms for reopening the Suez Canal.

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