Nixon’s View on Number of Soviet Jewish Visa Applications Disputed

President Nixon was reported today to have “again indicated the importance of a trade agreement (with the Soviet Union) and the fact that the Soviet government has received less (visa) applications recently than before, and his view that without an agreement the Soviet Union has the right to refuse applications.” That position by the President was relayed to reporters by Sen. Hugh Scott (R.Pa.) the Senate Minority Leader, after he emerged from a White House briefing for Congressional leaders of both parties on the recent Moscow summit conference.

The President’s reported assertion that visa applications have declined was promptly refuted by the National Conference on Soviet Jewry in New York. According to the NCSJ, visa applications have been running at an average of 4000 per month during the first six months of 1974, despite a 40 percent cut-back on emigration and despite increasing harassments, arrests and threats of trial to visa applicants. The NCSJ conceded that visa applications were slightly higher during the same period last year–about 4500 a month–but said that under the circumstances the drop was negligible.

Regarding Nixon’s reported assertion that without a trade agreement that includes most favored nation status for the Soviet Union the Soviet authorities could rightly deny visa applications, NCSJ chairman Stanley Lowell said, in a statement given to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today:

“The Administration is again fueling a dangerous situation for the cause of Soviet Jewry by putting the cart before the horse. It is true that freedom of emigration for Soviet Jews and the ending of harassment remains in the control of the Soviet government. The NCSJ supports trade and detente, but the burden of ending the ordeal for Soviet Jews ends in Moscow. Then, I am sure, they will find a greater sympathy and understanding amongst the American people and especially in Congress.”

Scott reported the President’s views when he was asked if a discussion had ensued at the briefing on possible compromise at the summit talks on the emigration issue. The Republican leader replied that the President “realizes that the matter is entirely for Congress, but he hopes they can work out a trade bill that would be generally acceptable.” Replying to a question on whether Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger brought back from Moscow “something new” on the emigration matter, Scott said, “That’s better handled by quiet talk.” (By Joseph Polakoff)

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