Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev has backed hardline Arab efforts to oppose the Egyptian-Israeli peace accords and has hinted that the Kremlin would step-up military aid to Syria.
Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev has backed hardline Arab efforts to oppose the Egyptian-Israeli peace accords and has hinted that the Kremlin would step-up military aid to Syria. Mr. Brezhnev was speaking at a banquet for Syrian President Hafez al-Assad in Moscow on Thursday (5 October).
SYNOPSIS: President Assad flew into Moscow's Vnukov airport on Thursday morning from Damascus -- two weeks after the hardline Arab nations had pledged to seek closer ties with the Soviet Union.
The Syrian President was given a full-scale state welcome by the Kremlin leadership and his arrival was broadcast live throughout the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. President Brezhnev, Prime Minister Alexi Kosygin, Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko and Defence Minister Dmitri Ustinov all came to the airport to greet him. Mr. Assad was in East Berlin earlier this week and last visited Moscow in February.
After inspecting a guard of honour, the Syrian President was driven in a motorcade past cheering crowds to begin his Kremlin talks. According to Reuters news agency he is expected to work with the Soviet leaders on a united Arab policy to combat the Egyptian-Israeli peace accords.
Soviet-armed Syrian troops are currently engaged in heavy fighting with right-wing Lebanese Christian militias in Beirut. Two years ago the entry of the Syrian army into the Lebanese civil war and its action against left-wing and Palestinian troops was disapproved of by the Kremlin and brought about a cooling of relations between Moscow and Damascus.
But ties were restored to the former level early last year and now they are united in their opposition to the Camp David agreement. During talks with President Brezhnev soon after President Assad's arrival the Soviet news agency Tass reported that the two leaders said the accords had been arranged behind the backs of the Arab countries. President Assad leads the Arab "Front for Steadfastness and Confrontation", which has called for closer ties with Moscow to counter the American-backed peace accords.
At the banquet following the Kremlin talks Mr. Brezhnev said Syria and the Soviet Union are "fighting shoulder to shoulder in the struggle against imperialism and reaction." Tass report that they have reiterated their determination to work for peace on the basis of the liberation of all Arab lands occupied by Israel and the establishment of a Palestinian state.