WASHINGTON (Mar. 13)
The White House refused to comment today on a report that Premier Golda Meir of Israel, at her meeting with President Nixon March 1, “was give along with promises of continuing aid, a warning of conflict ahead” between Israel and the U.S. The alleged warning, reported by syndicated columnist Marquis Childs in the Washington Post today, was reportedly related to the emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union. Mrs. Meir, Childs wrote was told that “the United States cannot dictate the emigration policy of the Soviet Union.”
Replying to a question by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, White House Deputy Press Secretary Gerald Warren said, “I am not commenting on that report.” He said he would not discuss Mrs. Meir’s meeting with Nixon beyond what Press Secretary Ronald Ziegler said at the time. Warren remarked: “Our position on this problem of emigration has been told several times.”
Asked if the current visit to Moscow by Secretary of the Treasury George P. Shultz for trade discussions with Soviet officials was part of the “quiet diplomacy” position adopted by the Administration on the emigration issue. Warren said he had no information on Shultz’s talks.
He said the President was receiving reports from Shultz. He said he did not know when the Administration would present the East-West trade bill to Congress for enactment, or in what form it would be presented.
SEEKING ASSURANCES ON EMIGRATION
A major topic of debate in Washington is whether the Soviet Union will back down on its emigration head tax in order to secure most favored nation status and other trade concessions from the U.S. Aides to Sen Henry M. Jackson (D.Wash.) the principal sponsor of an amendment to the East-West Trade Act linking trade concessions to an easing of Soviet emigration policy, reportedly believe that the Russians have little choice but to find a face-saving formula because of their food shortage and economic troubles.
But White House aides directly concerned with the matter were said to be less optimistic. They have expressed the view that the issue involves intervention in Soviet domestic affairs.
Sources here said today that Shultz was trying to obtain private assurances from Soviet officials that the USSR would permit more Jews to emigrate. Some members of Congress said they had been told by members of a visiting Soviet trade delegation that their government would look into the education tax which affects Jewish academicians seeking to emigrate. But according to reports from Moscow, Western observers, believe a dramatic breakthrough on the emigration tax matter and other restrictions on emigration is not likely.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Export-Import Bank said yesterday that the first scheduled credit for the Soviet Union under the East-West ‘trade’ Act signed last Oct. has been delayed. The spokesman said the delay was caused by legal details. Administration sources denied that it was connected in any way with Shultz’s talks in Moscow.