WASHINGTON (Oct. 21)
President Ford today stressed that the Soviet Union has not pledged to allow a specific number of Jews and others to emigrate annually and that Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, in his letter to Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D.Wash.), had not used a number. The President issued that assertion through his Press Secretary, Ron Nessen, while en route to the Mexican border to meet with President Luis Echeverria of Mexico. According to Nessen. the President sought to “clarify” the Soviet position because it “appears to have been widely misunderstood.”
Jackson, shortly afterwards, issued a new statement in which he repeated his announcement last Friday, in disclosing his exchange of letters with Kissinger, that the 60,000 per annum figure he had used in connection with future emigration from the USSR was “a minimum standard of initial compliance” of Soviet practices in the future.
Nessen said that all the assurances the U.S. had received from the Soviet Union are contained in the letter from Kissinger to Jackson. He noted that the letter does not contain specific numbers. Rather it sets forth the principals to be applied in handling applications and visas of those wishing to emigrate.”
Capitol Hill analysts interpreted Ford’s “clarification” as intended to reassure Soviet Communist Party leader Leonid Brezhnev and others that the 60,000 figure which has been widely reported, sometimes without qualification. was not in fact a “quota” to which the Soviet Union is committed. Kissinger, who was aboard the Presidential plane, was said to have telephoned Jackson from the aircraft about the President’s statement. Kissinger leaves for Moscow tomorrow for discussion of various issues, presumably including trade with Soviet officials.
JACKSON’S STATEMENT ON CLARIFICATION
In his statement today. Jackson said: “The White House clarification serves to underline the fact that Secretary Kissinger’s letter to me conveys the assurances of the Soviet Union. With respect to the anticipated increase in the rate of emigration from the USSR, that letter is clear in stating the U.S. assumption that the ‘rate of emigration from the USSR would begin to rise promptly…and would continue to rise to correspond to the number of applicants.'”
Continuing, Jackson stated: “With the Soviet assurances conveyed by Secretary Kissinger to me to end harassment and intimidation of those seeking to emigrate, and with the number of visas rising to correspond to the number of applicants. I believe that more than 60,000 persons will emigrate each year. The 60,000 figure mentioned in my letter is a bench-mark ‘a minimum standard of initial compliance’ to be used by the Congress and the President in judging the good faith of the Soviets in the transition from their present restrictive policy to the future liberalized policy to which they are committed by the assurances in Secretary Kissinger’s letter.”