KIEV (May. 30)
White House spokesmen had little to report publicly today on two issues of major interest to the American Jewish community and to Israel–the Middle East and Soviet Jewry. President Nixon and the Presidential party left this morning for Teheran after eight days in the Soviet Union. On the Mideast, the summit conference in Moscow yielded only the declaration that the two sides “favor progress.” They support, according to the Joint communique, the Jarring mission’s goal of an agreement between the Arabs and the Israelis under Security Council Resolution 242. The last word on the Soviet Jewry issue was that “it was mentioned.”
In the absence of details on the conversations between Nixon and Communist Party leader Leonid I. Brezhnev, It is too early to assess the actual results. Certainly the vagueness of the Mideast and Soviet Jewry has also been characteristic of other subjects, notably Vietnam.
It appeared from the communique that the two sides maintained their pre-summit positions. But that does not necessarily mean the positions are frozen; it may mean that at present neither government is prepared to announce or even indicate any shift. Anything beyond a bare acknowledgment that the Soviet Jewry issue was discussed would be inappropriate diplomatically or out of simple courtesy. Spokesmen said the President could not go much beyond letting the Soviet leaders know the attitude of the American government on the plight of Soviet Jews.
‘NO SURPRISES’ AT SUMMIT
Dr. Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s national security advisor, said late last night at his second press briefing in 10 hours that regarding the Mideast, “Anything that keeps the situation from being inflamed is negative progress.” He said the question was “fully discussed” and that the exchange of views at the summit helped this “negative progress.” It was understood here that neither side altered its stated position regarding the Arab-Israeli dispute.
Dr. Kissinger said, not referring to any particular matter, that “no surprises” came from either side during the week-long conference. Nixon discussed the Mideast with Soviet leaders while Secretary of State William P. Rogers did so in separate sessions with Foreign Minister Andrei A. Gromyko.
The President, on the eve of his departure from Washington to Salzburg, said he would not “let down” the Jewish community. Late last night here in Kiev, Dr. Kissinger said the President had “mentioned the problem” at the conference. Asked if he had mentioned it to Brezhnev, he declared: “I won’t go any further. The Soviet leaders are aware of our attitude toward this problem.”
BOTH SIDES CONSISTENTLY VAGUE
Details of the conversation are unlikely to emerge immediately, probably not until after the President’s return to Washington Thursday night and possibly not for some time. Both sides have been consistently vague on issues other than bilateral agreements. Soviet spokesmen have made their side of the Jewish issue obvious to foreign newsmen here. indicating their desire to keep it in their own hands. It is unlikely, therefore, that Nixon will take the initiative in releasing any information, an act his Soviet hosts might consider presumptuous.
At a press briefing on the summit communique. Dr. Kissinger was asked: “How extensive were the discussions on the Middle East and were there any proposals made by either side?” He replied: “There were discussions between the General Secretary (Brezhnev) and the President concerning the Middle East. They were, as the communique says, frank and thorough. Of course, this is a subject in which a great deal depends on the parties concerned, and in which the possibility of outside countries is limited. But of course, both sides favor progress toward a peaceful settlement.” He gave no details on the timing or extent of the discussions or on the Soviet leaders’ reactions.
However, in Nixon’s televised speech In Moscow Sunday night, implications for both the Mideast and Vietnam appeared in two passages. The President seemed to be saying the US has not altered its Mideast position whereby it maintains that a settlement depends on the parties. This is in contrast to the established Soviet position that the major powers should impose a solution on Israel and its Arab neighbors.
The President seemed to be cautioning the Soviet Union not to allow Egypt or North Vietnam to cause conflict between the superpowers when he said: “History tells us that great nations have often been dragged into war without intending it, by conflicts between smaller nations. As great powers, we can and should use our influence to prevent this from happening.”