WASHINGTON (Oct. 1)
A new stage in the struggle between the White House and Congress over trade with the Soviet Union appeared about to unfold this week in the wake of the House Ways and Means Committee’s adoption last week of the Mills-Vanik amendment to deny most favored nation status to the USSR until it eases its emigration policies for Jews and others.
In response to what is conceded here to be a major setback to his policy of doing business with the USSR–a cornerstone of detente–Pres. Nixon gave assurances to Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei A. Gromyko at a White House meeting last Friday that his Administration would try hard to get most favored nation status for the Soviet Union. Nixon’s pledge to Gromyko was announced by White House spokesman Gerald Warren.
Warren refused to say whether Nixon had asked Gromyko to speed up permission for Jews to emigrate from the USSR in larger numbers. He would say only that the Administration prefers to handle the issue by “quiet diplomacy.”
Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger warned at a press conference in New York last Wednesday that as a result of the House committee’s action “the most serious questions” would have to be raised, not only by the Russians but by other countries about the ability of the U.S. to fulfill its promises. He contended that there were limits to Washington’s ability to pressure the Soviet Union to make internal changes without risking damage to improved relations with Moscow.
Dr. Kissinger spoke only a few hours after the Ways and Means Committee adopted the Mills-Vanik measure by a voice vote, reportedly unanimous. The amendment, attached to the new foreign trade bill, denies the President the right to grant most favored nation status to the, Soviet Union or any Communist country until he certifies to Congress that the country in question did not restrict emigration. An identical amendment, authored by Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D.Wash.) is pending in the Senate where it has overwhelming support.
SOVIET UNION HARDENS ATTITUDE TOWARD CRITICISM
The Soviet Union, meanwhile, appeared to be hardening toward Western criticism of its emigration restrictions and repression of dissidents. Moscow announced its ratification of two international covenants adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1966, one of which affirms emigration rights and the other the free flow of ideas and individual liberty. But two articles in major Communist Party publications last Friday claimed that the covenants gave the Soviet government specific authority to limit emigration and other individual rights.
The documents ratified by Moscow–but not yet by the Western powers–are the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which affirms the right of everyone to leave any country, including his own; and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
According to the articles in the Communist Party daily, Pravda, and in Novoye Vremya, the party’s international affairs weekly both covenants state that such individual rights as freedom of religion, peaceful assembly, emigration and the dissemination of ideas can be restricted in the interests of national security or for the protection of public order, health and morals.