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Gromyko Repudiates Letter of Understanding Between Kissinger and Jackson on Soviet Emigration

A repudiation by Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko of the Oct. 18 letters of understanding on Soviet emigration practices exchanged between Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D.Wash.) was made public tonight by the Soviet official news agency Tass. The repudiation, which says the Kissinger-Jackson exchange created a “distorted impression” of the Soviet position, was contained in a letter from Gromyko to Kissinger dated Oct. 26, when Kissinger was in Moscow.

The Gromyko letter said the Soviet government had given no assurances to the U.S. on easing emigration procedures and it expected American restrictions on trade with the USSR to be lifted unconditionally.

There was no immediate comment from U.S. Administration officials about the Gromyko letter. There was no indication as to why the Gromyko letter was released at this time. There was, however, some speculation that it was released as an answer to Egyptian Foreign Minister Ismail Fahmy’s demand several days ago that Israel freeze its immigration for the next 50 years. Fahmy’s statement was seen by some here and in Israel as a request to the Soviet Union to halt the emigration of Soviet Jews. The speculation was also that the release of the Gromyko letter at this time serves to smooth the way for the upcoming talks in Cairo between President Anwar Sadat and Soviet Communist Party Secretary Leonid I. Brezhnev.

EMIGRATION IS INTERNAL POLICY OF USSR

The Tass release of the Gromyko letter came five days after the Senate approved the Trade Reform Bill giving the Soviet Union most favored nation status in return for what Kissinger had said were assurances that the emigration of Jews and other Soviet citizens would be eased.

Gromyko’s letter said that in contacts with the U.S. on the emigration issue, the Soviet side had “underlined that this question relates totally to the internal competence of our State….Tass is authorized to state that leading circles of the Soviet Union flatly reject as unacceptable any attempts from whoever they may come, to intervene in the internal affairs that are entirely the concern of the Soviet State and no one else,” the Tass release stated.

Gromyko’s letter to Kissinger said that Soviet “explanations” of their views on emigration had been characterized in the U.S. as “some sort of assurances and even almost obligations from our side about the…departure of Soviet citizens from the USSR. Some figures were even cited relating to the supposed number of such citizens, and the expected increase of this number in compassion with past years is also being talked about.”

The Gromyko letter claimed that Kissinger had been told by the Soviet Union that in fact there was “a tendency toward a decrease in the number of persons wishing to leave the USSR and seek permanent residence in other countries.”

The letter referred to “artificially created complications” around U.S.-Soviet trade agreements and observed, “There is only one basis on which Soviet-American relations in general and commercial and economic relations in particular can be built successfully….This is full equality of the sides and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs.”

Kissinger, in his final appearance before the Senate Finance Committee earlier this month prior to its approval of the Trade Reform Bill, stated that the understanding with the Soviet Union on the emigration issue had to be taken on “faith.” He told the Senators that if he were to say specifically that an agreement had been reached, the Soviets would repudiate it. He made no mention of the Gromyko letter written nearly two months earlier.

(Reactions to the letter came swiftly from Congressional and Jewish supporters of Soviet Jewry. See P. 3 for separate story.)

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