MOSCOW (May. 24)
The spokesman for the Soviet Union’s leadership engaged in the summit talks with President Nixon drew a line tonight between a settlement in the Middle East and Soviet-American accommodation in Europe. L.M. Zamyaten, the general director of the Tass News Agency who is serving as director of the international press center for the Soviet-American conference, told the representatives of the world press that the Soviet government has “never connected settlement of the Middle East problem with any other situation.”
Zamyaten made the statement in response to a request for comment by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s correspondent on the expression by the Austrian Foreign Minister, Dr. Rudolph Kirchschlaeger, in Salzburg last Sunday that it was “obvious” there can be no detente or peace in Europe without a settlement in the Middle East. The request for comment came after Zamyaten and Ronald Ziegler, Nixon’s Press Secretary, had mentioned that the Soviet and American leaders had been discussing prospects for a European security conference which the Soviet Union has long desired.
Responding to JTA’s request, Zamyaten said: “We can only comment on the Soviet view and Mr. Ziegler can comment for the United States but neither of us can comment on the Austrian point of view.” Continuing, he said: “We have never connected settlement of the Middle East problem with any other situation. It is connected first of all with the withdrawal of Israel’s troops from all Arab territory.” Ziegler did not comment on the request.
MUM ON MIDEAST TALKS
Afterwards, Zamyaten was asked privately by the JTA whether the Middle East was in fact discussed at today’s two meetings. He declined to respond substantively, saying he would not discuss any details of the talks. This response was in keeping with the refusals by him and Ziegler in their briefing to touch on the substance of today’s sessions. It was understood, however, on good authority that the Middle East in fact has not yet been discussed since the talks began Monday. There has been no indication whatsoever as to when or how the Soviet Jewry issue will arise.
Whether the Middle East will in fact be discussed is not in doubt. The timing, however, is now uncertain in view of Zamyaten’s sharp comment, it was speculated, since it indicated extreme Soviet sensitivity on the joining of the two areas in a discussion on Europe. From the American point of view, it has been reliably said, detente in Europe without discussion of the Eastern Mediterranean and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization which includes Turkey cannot be possible.
In reporting on today’s sessions thus far with regard to the topic of Europe, Ziegler said that a “change has taken place in the direction of easing of tensions.” He noted that the quadrapartite agreement on Berlin and West Germany’s agreements with East Germany, Poland and Russia should promote an improvement in the international political climate.