Nixon Going to Moscow for Summit Conference: Mideast Principal Topic
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Nixon Going to Moscow for Summit Conference: Mideast Principal Topic

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President Nixon announced today that he would visit Moscow late next May for a summit conference and that the Middle East would be a principal topic of discussion with Soviet leaders. In disclosing that the conference will take place after his planned visit to Peking, the President indicated a possibility that a Soviet-American agreement on the Middle East might be reached even before he left Washington for Moscow. This indication came after he said that an agreement might be obtained on limiting nuclear weapons in advance of the Moscow summit meeting and thus make lengthy discussions on that subject superfluous. The same, he added, could be true of the Middle East. The President said that besides the Middle East and strategic arms limitation, the Moscow discussions would include a number of other areas presently under negotiations between the US and the Soviet Union.

He did not identify the other areas for discussion but his remark gave rise to speculation that the Middle East problem is one that occupies top priority for both countries. President Nixon made his announcement in a rare appearance in the White House briefing room where reporters gather daily for briefings from press officers. The President told newsmen that the Berlin agreement led him to believe that the time was now ripe for a summit conference. He said that significant progress has been made during the past two years in Soviet-American relations and that he wanted a discussion with Soviet leaders. The official invitation was brought to him last month when Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko visited the White House. The President said that Secretary of State William P. Rogers and Henry Kissinger, the President’s advisor on security affairs would be part of the small group which will accompany him to Moscow.


Nixon added that his trips to both Peking and Moscow would be preceded by intensive discussions between American officials and their counterparts in China and the USSR to make sure the summit conference will serve a useful purpose. The President cautioned against speculation that his trips to Peking and Moscow were intended to exploit differences between the two major Communist powers. There was speculation here, however, that Nixon’s announcement that he would visit Moscow next spring would put a damper on the current visit to Moscow by President Anwar Sadat of Egypt. He was said to have gone there to obtain assurances of continued strong Soviet political and military support for Egypt and for his pledge that this year will be the decisive one for an interim agreement with Israel on the Suez Canal.

Some observers felt that Nixon’s announcement confirmed their expectations during the past two years that a final settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict would be determined by an agreement between the two superpowers. That speculation was given additional credence today when the President named the Middle East among the areas on which the US and Soviet Union were presently having negotiations. Some informed observers believe that arrangements for Nixon’s visit to Moscow were behind the State Department’s opposition to moves in both houses of Congress for legislation which would empower the government to issue 30,000 non-quota visas for Soviet Jews wishing to emigrate to the US and the Voice of America’s reluctance to inaugurate Yiddish language broad- casts to Soviet Jews. Both moves would be regarded as affronts by Soviet leaders and thus unsupportable at a time when a summit conference was being arranged, the State Department is said to feel.

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