• Short Summary

    Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev has accused the United States of interfering in Soviet internal affairs.?

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    Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev has accused the United States of interfering in Soviet internal affairs. He launched his attack at the opening of the sixteenth Soviet Trade Union Congress in Moscow on Monday (21 March) - only six days before U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance was due in the Soviet capital for the first top-level contacts between the new American government and the Kremlin.

    SYNOPSIS: More than 5,000 trade unionists are attending the opening meeting, representing 113 million workers. Members of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party, and Prime Minister Aleksei Kosygin, were also present.

    Mr Brezhnev delivered a two-hour-long speech. The Soviet leader made no direct link between the United States stand on the human rights issue and Strategic Arms Limitation Talks - SALT. But he did imply that reaching an agreement to replace the 1972 SALT pact would be difficult unless Washington toned down its campaigning for civil liberties.

    Mr. Brezhnev also denied Western charges that human rights were violated in the Soviet Union. And reminding his audience of Mr. Vance's impending arrival, he declared "We will see what he brings". But, he said, he had detected no sign of any effort by the new U.S. administration in its first two months to overcome the stagnation in U.S.-Soviet relations.

    Meanwhile, in Washington, Mr. Vance spoke to reporters after hearing about the attack.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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