In its first public response to the Christmas Middle East summit meeting, the Kremlim today labeled it a "blind alley" that forced Egyptian President Anwar Sadat into a major concession to the Israelis while getting nothing in return.
The government news agency Tass declared that the Egyptian president's agreement to send his foreign minister to Jerusalem for talks beginning next month "is regarded as a serious concession by Sadat to (Israeli Prime Minister Menachem) Begin since the very presence of an Egyptian minister in Jerusalem is regarded in the Arab world as recognition of Jerusalem by Egypt as the capital of Israel."
This Soviet portrayal of the summit reflects soviet anger at Sadat, its hopes for a Geneva peace at which it can play a role, and its attempts to make common cause with the "rejectionist front" of Arab states opposed to the Sadat-Begin entente.
The Kremlin for a number of weeks has been criticizing and complaining about the Sadat peace initiatives, casting them always in the worst possible light and encouraging the other Arab states to reject them. Western diplomatic sources who have met recently with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko say the official Kremlin position "is no different" in character or content from the dispatches and commentaries of its controlled press.
Tass noted with what bordered on satisfaction that Sadat at a press conference today "admitted that the Palestine problem is the key one for a Middle East settlement." The Kremlin has supported the Palestine Liberation Organization and top Soviet leaders have met this year with its leader, Yasser Arafat. The Kremlin position is that any peace initiatives that exclude the PLO as spokesman for Palestianians' aspirations for their own nation must be opposed and is destined to fail anyway.
The news agency, quoting what is called "well-informed political observers," asserted that "the Israeli leaders, far from bringing any of the 'concessions' they promised, have further toughened their position. it is said in Israeli circles that the maximum of what Israel is prepared to do proved to be well below the minimum asked for by Sadat."
At the same time, the Kremlin continued its policy of keeping its own condemnation somewhat muted, using the device of quotes from Arab and foreign press and observers to make its derogatory points.