WASHINGTON (Dec. 20)
The State Department responded belatedly and with only mild criticism today to a reported Soviet pledge to support Egypt “in peace and in war” made in Cairo last Thursday by the Russian Ambassador Vladimir M. Vinogradov. The State Department refused to comment on the Ambassador’s reported remark at the time claiming that it was not authenticated.
Department spokesman Charles Bray said that the Soviet envoy “made comments in a private session with a small group of Egyptian journalists” which “obviously are not helpful to the whole process in which the parties and others have been engaged over the past month looking to an interim agreement or a full settlement.” Bray said he was still not certain that Vinogradov had been quoted correctly but described his observation today as a “considered” comment by the State Department following inquiries made in Moscow and Cairo. It was understood that Bray’s comment was based on information from Cairo.
The State Department spokesman declined to comment on reports that President Anwar Sadat of Egypt would deliver a new war-oriented speech later this week. He said it would not be useful to anticipate what anyone might say in a speech. Asked about reports of mounting preparations for war in the Middle East, Bray said the US is not aware of any mobilization in the region and has not received any message of concern as the year’s end approaches. He said the US was still prepared to advance talks between Israel and Egypt. The possibility of such talks has not moved forward, he said, but on the other hand, neither party has closed the door to them.