Gorbachev Calls for International Mideast Talks

From Times Wire Services

Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev blamed Washington and Israel on Friday for the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and called for the establishment of an international peace conference to deal with the conflicts.

Speaking at a dinner for visiting Syrian President Hafez Assad, Gorbachev expressed solidarity with the Arab states, calling on them to resolve their difference and condemning U.S. policies in the region.

"The principal source of the persisting conflict is the expansionist policy of the Washington-backed ruling circles of Israel," he said. "The United States is using the Middle East as a testing range for its imperialist policy.

"We are confident that preparations for an international conference on the Middle East involving all the sides concerned should be a focal point for collective efforts to bring about a settlement," he added.

Arms Issue Raised

Gorbachev's speech, which followed talks with Assad in the Kremlin, was reported by the official news agency Tass.

He also accused the United States and other Western nations of seeking to sow confusion and spread fear about new Soviet arms reduction proposals for Europe.

Washington and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, he said have built up propaganda against Moscow's proposals to take all Soviet and U.S. Medium-range nuclear missiles out of Europe and to start talks on eliminating shorter range missiles there.

"There is again a commotion among the NATO ruling circles, as was the case after Reykjavik. All sorts of inventions are being splashed out into public and new fears are being built up," he said, referring to the U.S.-Soviet summit in Iceland last October.

"They are out to confuse people not only on the question of medium-range missiles, but also on other proposals expressed to (Secretary of State) George Shultz in Moscow."

Some Western European countries have expressed concern that the removal of shorter-range missiles, with a range of 350 to 1,000 miles, would damage NATO's doctrine of "flexible defense" and increase the risk of war.

"They are again confusing themselves and the public by the suspicions: what does Moscow intend? Why such bold steps? . . . The very idea of ridding Europe of nuclear arsenals is declared to be harmful. It is sad and ludicrous to see all this in print," Gorbachev said.

President Reagan and Gorbachev have expressed some optimism about reaching an accord to remove all medium-range missiles, those with a range of 1,000 to 3,000 miles, from Europe and limit the number of such warheads to 100 each elsewhere.

On the Middle East, the Soviet Union has long backed the idea of a peace conference involving itself, the other four permanent members of the U.N. Security Council--the United States, China, Britain and France--and the Palestinians.

The United States has expressed reticence about the idea. The Israeli government is divided on the issue, and Syria's position is seen as ambiguous. China, the European Communities, Jordan and Egypt support the idea.

Gorbachev said that during his talks with Assad, "preparedness has been reaffirmed to assist Syria further in maintaining its defense capacity at the proper level."

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