Senate Unit Seeks to Determine Rumania’s Position on Emigration

The Senate Finance subcommittee on international trade is seeking to find what guarantees the Rumanian government has given to the United States on emigration in order to continue to be eligible for U.S. most-favored-nation trade benefits. The subcommittee, headed by Sen. Abraham Ribicoff (D.Conn.), went into executive session today on the first day of the hearings in order to get that information from State Department Counsellor Matthew Nimetz. Sen. John Heinz (R.Pa.) asked for the closed session after he sought from Nimetz what assurances Jewish groups had received from the Rumanian government on emigration, and if these were in writing, which the U.S. has not been able to obtain.

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has backed the Carter Administration’s request for continued MFN status for Rumania, although the Conference has voiced concern about decreasing Jewish emigration from Rumania. Ribicoff introduced a letter from Jack Spitzer, president of B’nai B’rith, in which the Presidents Conference endorsed the trade benefits for Rumania based on “understandings reached with the Rumanian government” by a representative of the Presidents Conference. But Jacob Birnbaum, director of the Center for Russian and East European Jewry, voiced opposition in testimony to the subcommittee. He urged a monitoring system in the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest. He noted that Jewish emigration has dropped in recent years and charged that would be emigrants are turned away at the police station when they apply for emigration visas. He demanded written assurances from the Rumanian government.

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