BRUSSELS (Feb. 10)
Soviet authorities are getting increasingly nervous about the Second World Conference on Soviet Jewry beginning here Feb. 17. This afternoon the Soviet press agency, Novosti, announced a press conference here Thursday featuring former Soviet citizens who had emigrated from the USSR and who decided to return.
From the wording of the Novosti invitation, it is not certain whether the former emigres are the same ones trotted out by the Soviets at a press conference in Moscow last Friday to condemn Israel as a racist society and to express gratitude to the USSR for letting them back.
Over the week-end the Kremlin complained to the Belgian Foreign Ministry that the Brussels conference was an unfriendly act. They were joined by nearly a dozen Arab states, led by Iraq, which threatened to cancel a contract for the sale of phosphates to Belgium if the conference were not banned.
The Belgian Foreign Minister who received a delegation of Arab ambassadors, reminded them that the Belgian constitution permits peaceful conferences of all kinds. He added that those public officials who announced their support of the conference did so in their own capacities and not officially for the Belgian government.
Among the members of the local patrons committee for the conference are six ministers of state, the heads of three major Belgian political parties, five university presidents and the mayors of Brussels and Liege, along with other leading figures in Belgian public life.