Nixon’s Visit to Moscow Precludes New Outbreak of Mideast Hostilities
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Nixon’s Visit to Moscow Precludes New Outbreak of Mideast Hostilities

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Political observers here believe that President Nixon’s announced visit to Moscow for a summit meeting next May precludes a new outbreak of hostilities in the Middle East for the time being. The concensus of opinion here is that neither the US nor the USSR want to see a resumption of fighting and that the Russians have a particular interest in keeping the peace as long as there is a prospect of a further thawing in Soviet-American relations. Renewed warfare between Israel and Egypt, it is believed here, could cause the cancellation of the Nixon visit since it would constitute a direct conflict between the vested interests of both super-powers.

At the same time, diplomatic observers evaluating the joint Egyptian-Soviet communique issued in Moscow last night at the end of President Anwar Sadat’s three-day visit, said it contained evidence of sharp conflicts of opinion between the Egyptian and Soviet leaders, some of which remained unresolved. They pointed out that the communique offered no endorsement of Sadat’s recent proclamation that 1971 will be the year of decision with Israel although the Egyptian President reiterated that view while he was in Moscow. On the other hand, Sadat had to put his signature to paragraphs in the joint communique which he cannot have liked, such as the denunciation of anti-Communist and anti-Soviet activities in the Arab world, the observers said.


(In London, Arab sources here claimed today that Sadat’s visit to Moscow was a failure because he had to agree to the condemnation of anti-Communist and anti-Soviet actions. The sources also noted that the Russian leaders flatly refused to endorse Sadat’s threat to resume hostilities against Israel should diplomatic efforts fail to achieve a Middle East settlement.) Targets of that part of the communique were obviously President Jafer Numeiri of Sudan who put down a pro-Communist coup last August and Col. Muammer Qadhafi, leader of Libya’s ruling military junta who has been persistently making anti-Communist pronouncements. Sadat found it necessary to explain to his Soviet hosts that the recent federation of Egypt with Libya and Syria was not directed against the Soviet Union but was intended to strengthen the Arab states against Israel and the “imperialist” powers.

In return for the adherence of Egypt to Socialist and Communist principles, Sadat received Russian assurances of further military aid. The communique spoke of coordinated steps designed to improve Egypt’s military ability which means more arms from Russia though it did not specify whether Egypt would get the offensive weapons it has been clamoring for. The Israeli observers stressed that the published text of the communique was not necessarily a full representation of what actually was agreed upon. They recalled that when the late President Gamal Abdel Nasser visited Moscow last year there was no mention of a Soviet agreement to Secretary of State Rogers’ initiative for an interim agreement to reopen the Suez Canal.

Reports of this appeared several days later and were eventually confirmed in Soviet and Egyptian political circles. The Russian are believed to be more interested in a political settlement in the Middle East than a military solution. In that light, the promise of additional arms to Egypt and last Sunday’s flight of two MIG-23s into Israeli airspace are viewed as a political deterrent rather than a military commitment to Egypt.

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