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White House Mum on Congressional Bid to Move Olympics out of Moscow

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The White House has temporarily declined to supply President Carter’s view on the identical resolutions in the Senate and House urging removal of the 1980 Olympics from Moscow to a city outside the Soviet Union, in view of the Soviet government’s violations of human rights and media freedom.

Replying to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s question yesterday whether the President agrees or disagrees with the “sense” of the Congressional resolutions, Presidential Press Secretary Jody Powell replied that “it is important we thoroughly consider all ramifications in response to any action we find deplorable and that we respond in the most effective way.”

President Carter said at his press conference last Thursday night that he opposed “a boycott” of the Olympics. The Congressional sponsors of the resolutions are not seeking a boycott.

Meanwhile, the International Harvester Co. disclosed it has suspended trade negotiations with the Soviet Union and appealed to other U.S. firms doing business with the Soviet Union for support in protest against the arrest of Jay Crawford, Harvester’s representative in Moscow, who was dragged from his car on a Moscow street June I and held prisoner in Lefortovo prison. He was accused of illegally buying large sums of Soviet currency on the black market. Crawford, who denied all charges, was released June 27 in the custody of the U.S. Ambassador and has been ordered to remain in Moscow.

Harvester’s request for support was made by the company’s chairman, Brooks McCormack, in a personal letter sent to executives July 6 stating, in part, “We leave it up to the companies to make whatever response they wish to make.” At least two other U.S. corporations trading with the USSR have protested, it was said, and about 20 other American companies and the International Chamber of Commerce have supported Harvester’s requests for support.

When the Jewish Telegraphic Agency raised the question at the White House on the President’s reaction to Harvester’s campaign, Powell replied that the President had “indicated two weeks ago that if American business did not feel safe from arbitrary arrests and harassment in the Soviet Union that certainly would have unfortunate effects on the climate of doing business.” Privately, a top White House source told the JTA later that “we thoroughly agree with Harvester on this.”

At the State Department, spokesman Hodding Carter said that a Harvester representative had protested to the State Department last Monday on the arrest of Crawford, and that Harvester was informed “it was up to them to do what they felt they needed to do in response” to Crawford’s arrest. “We obviously did not discourage them from their action and to let Soviet authorities know how concerned they felt about the incident involving Mr. Crawford,” Carter added.

SIGNIFICANCE OF HARVESTER’S ACTION

Harvester’s action is significant in that companies doing business with the Soviet Union have encouraged more U.S. trade with it and avoided criticism in general of Soviet actions against dissidents and Soviet Jewry.

Harvester was said to have sold about $32 million in earth-moving and construction equipment last year to the Soviet Union. After the 1972 Brezhnev-Nixon agreements, 24 U.S. companies opened offices in Moscow. However, non-agricultural U.S. exports to the Soviet Union have dropped this year to about half their 1976 total. According to a Commerce Department estimate, this year’s trade total will be about $400 million, apart from agriculture.

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