Soviet leaders have made it apparent they consider Senator Edward Kennedy a strong candidate for top power in the United States.
Soviet leaders have made it apparent they consider Senator Edward Kennedy a strong candidate for top power in the United States. In recent days, during his visit to the Soviet Union, Senator Kennedy has held lengthy talks with foreign Minister Adnrei Gromyko and Communist Party leader Leonid Brezhnev. The duration of these conferences -- more than two hours with Mr. Gromyko, and four hours with Mr. Brezhnev -- is a sure Indication of the importance the Soviet leadership attaches to the future of senator kennedy.
On Sunday (21 April), Senator Kennedy, together with his wife, Joan,m met Mr. Gromyko. After the pleasantries of international diplomacy, the Soviet Foreign Minister and Senator Kennedy sat down for some straight talking. They discussed, it's reported, every important sphere of international relations, leaving few subjects untouched before the following day's meeting between the U.S. Senator and Mr. Brezhnev.
When he met Mr. Brezhnev in the Kremlin on Monday (22 April), Senator kennedy was accompanied by his wife and two of their children, Teddy Junior (12), and Kara (13). The atmosphere wa jovial. Mr.Brezhev received a set of collected speeches of the Senator's late brother, President John Kennedy, and Mrs. John Kennedy had a book by the Senator's mother, Mrs. Rose Kennedy, for Mr. Brezhnev. In return the Kremlin chief gave Teddy Junior a signed photograph of himself and, after a search through desk drawers, produced another for Kara.
But after the informalities, the two men sat down for serious talks. It was the fifth day of the Senator's Soviet tour and he'd made no secret that he intended to raise the question of Kremlin restrictions on free emigration -- a main problem bedeviling Soviet-American relations.
A statement issued about three hours after the men had met said, a according to the Soviets, that Mr. Brezhnev had expressed readiness to expand ties with the U.S. even further "on the basis of equality, mutual benefit, and on-interference in internal affairs". This was seen as a clear rebuff to the Senator's view -- which he has backed by opposing American trade concessions to the Soviet Union until emigration controls are modified -- that the Kremlin must adapt its policies if it wants closer ties with the west.