Johnson and Kosygin Differ on Withdrawal of Israeli Troops; Reach No Agreement
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Johnson and Kosygin Differ on Withdrawal of Israeli Troops; Reach No Agreement

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Soviet Premier Aleksei Kosygin told a press conference here last night that he reached no agreement with President Johnson on the Arab-Israel situation during their summit meeting in Glassboro, N.J., because he insisted on the immediate withdrawal of the Israeli forces from the conquered Arab territories while President Johnson wanted this question to be considered a part of the entire complex of problems relating to the situation in the Middle East.

The Soviet Premier added, however, that there was agreement between him and President Johnson that, with regard to further efforts and activities on the Middle East issue, Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko would remain in contact to work on all the issues relating to the situation in the Middle East.

Mr. Kosygin expressed his “belief” that the United Nations is “duty-bound” to adopt decisions favoring the withdrawal of the Israeli troops “because further procrastination in carrying out that step could only enhance the risks of war breaking out again,” He said that “if the General Assembly decides in favor of the withdrawal of forces, every state, big or small, should comply with that decision.”

Noting that the General Assembly decision on troop withdrawal would be only a recommendation to the Security Council, the Soviet Premier added that, should Israel then fail to withdraw its troops after a vote to that effect by the Council, “sanctions” would have to be imposed against Israel.

To the question whether the Soviet Government would favor discontinuation of arms sales to countries in the Middle East, as well as freedom of passage through the Gulf of Akaba and the Suez Canal, Mr. Kosygin replied that, first, Israel must withdraw its troops behind the armistice lines, then the other questions could be “considered.”

In replying to another question, Premier Kosygin reiterated his stand outlined in his speech at the General Assembly asking for the condemnation of Israel as an aggressor, withdrawal of Israeli troops and the payment of compensation by Israel for war damages. This, he said, would “invigorate” the international situation and would be a lesson to other nations against aggression.

Asked what steps the Soviet Government may take to hamper China, should she attempt to supply the Arab countries with either nuclear weapons or the means to manufacture them, the Soviet Premier said that he does not think that “the question simply arises of China giving nuclear weapons to these countries.”


On the question of whether the Soviet Union would contribute to the prospects of peace in the Middle East by embargoing arms shipments in the area, as it is being done by France and Britain, Mr. Kosygin said that “this is a question between the Arab countries and the Soviet Union.” He reiterated that he considers “the first and most important issue” the bringing about of the withdrawal of the Israel forces behind the 1949 armistice lines. “When that is done,” he stated, “then all the other questions that may arise can be considered and resolved.”

Queried whether he would comment on reports of a new wave of anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union as a result of the Arab-Israel war, Premier Kosygin replied:

“Well I can only surmise that that is an invention trumped up by the author of the question himself. There has never been and there is no anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union and so there can be no question, either, of any new wave because there hasn’t been an old one. The Jews in the Soviet Union enjoy all the rights on an equal basis with all the other citizens of the Soviet Union. Many of them occupy very high, responsible posts. One of my deputies, a Deputy Prime Minister of the Soviet Union, is a Jew, and there are many Jews among the scientists and statesmen and men in other positions in the Soviet Union. There is no anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union, and I think that allegations to that effect are designed to create certain difficulties and to depict in a false light the situation in our country.”

In reply to another question, as to whether his talks with President Johnson will not affect his relations with the Arab states, Mr. Kosygin said he did not discuss Soviet-Arab relations with Mr. Johnson. He declared: “We maintain very good relations with the Arab world, very good relations; the Arab states enjoy great trust and confidence in the Soviet Union.”

When asked whether, in the light of his direct talks with President Johnson, he favors direct talks between the leaders of Israel and the Arab states, he said: “That is a question which the Arab states should decide upon and reply.”

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