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Meaning of Waiver of Visa Fees Unclear to State Department

State Department sources told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that they “did not know how to interpret” reports from Moscow yesterday that Soviet authorities have waived the visa tax in the cases of 19 Jewish families who want to emigrate to Israel. The sources said “It is not clear if this move was a reversal of policy,” adding that “It might only be a gesture timed to the (trade and lend-lease) agreements that were signed yesterday.”

State Department spokesman Charles Bray said today he had no specific information about the reported waiver of the visa fees. Asked if any headway had been made in American representations to the Soviets to ease their restrictions on emigration Bray replied, “No comment.”

(The JTA was informed this afternoon that Gavriel Shapiro said that Soviet academicians and scientists felt the waiver was tokenism. See separate story P. 3)

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