The Soviet Union will allow more than 200 Soviet citizens to reunite with families or spouses in the United States, a Soviet official said today.
The figure represents an increase over the 119 persons who were given permission to leave after the close of a conference on human rights in Bern, Switzerland, last week, according to Yuri Kashlev, head of the Soviet delegation to the conference.
A total of 71 "lingering cases" -- involving families of up to three persons who had been awaiting approval -- have been "decided favorably," Kashlev told journalists. Kashlev said 35 cases were approved yesterday, in addition to last week's 119 persons, bringing the total to "more than 200," he said.
All of the families will be permitted to emigrate to the United States, Kashlev told the Reuter news agency.
After ironing out a few wrinkles, Kashlev said, most of the emigres will be allowed to leave in a few days.
Kashlev also attacked a last-minute U.S. decision at last week's conference to block a final East-West agreement on human contacts, hammered out by neutral countries during the two-month-long session.
None of the Soviets to be released are Jews who wish to emigrate to Israel, a Soviet official said.
In another development in Washington, the State Department said yesterday that Romania has given tentative or final approval in the past two months for more than 1,000 persons to emigrate to the United States and has released from prison a Seventh Day Adventist activist, Dorel Catarama.
Spokesman Charles Redman said Catarama had been released just prior to a meeting last week between the State Department counselor, Edward J. Derwinski, and Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu. He said it was not clear whether Catarama would also be allowed to emigrate.
Redman said the recent Romanian decision had brought the level of approval for Romanians to obtain U.S. visas back to the "relatively high levels" of the past few years after a falloff in mid-1985. Immigration from Romania to the United States has varied between 2,300 in 1981 and 1982 to a peak of 4,500 in 1984, he said.
Redman refused to say whether the Romanian decision would influence a pending White House decision on whether to extend for another year the most-favored-nation trade status Romania has enjoyed in dealing with the United States for the past decade.