The State Department, in a new reflection of improving U.S.-Soviet relations, yesterday welcomed Moscow's "disavowal" of earlier Soviet-sponsored accusations that the United States created the AIDS virus in a military laboratory.
State Department spokesman Charles E. Redman volunteered U.S. comment on an article last Friday in Izvestia, the Soviet government newspaper, in which two prominent Soviet scientists disavowed the accusations and one of the scientists said he had protested their appearance in Soviet news media.
A Soviet "disinformation" campaign seeking to attribute AIDS, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, to U.S. biological warfare began in 1985 and continued through this summer, according to a State Department report that figured in Secretary of State George P. Shultz's meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow Oct. 23.
Gorbachev, in what Shultz later described as "a rather acrimonious discussion," challenged the 89-page State Department report covering the AIDS campaign and several other propaganda activities. Shultz, who was personally unfamiliar with the report, strongly backed the U.S. position, charging that "you've been spreading all of this bum dope about AIDS."
U.S. officials said Soviet propaganda campaigns charging the United States with sensational crimes are not unusual, but that a public disavowal of such a campaign in Soviet news organs is unusual. Even less common are protests by Soviet scientists against anti-U.S. propaganda drives.
Meanwhile, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that more than 30 U.S.-Soviet research programs on climatic changes were approved by the two governments last Friday. NOAA said both sides expressed special concern about depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer over the Antarctic and
agreed to expand cooperative research.
In another development, Assistant Secretary of State Richard Shifter said yesterday that 912 Soviet Jews were permitted to emigrate last month, almost as many as the total number permitted to emigrate in 1986. The October exodus brought the Jewish emigration total for 1987 to nearly 6,500, according to Shifter. This is close to half of the 12,000 to 15,000 Jews whose applications to emigrate were pending at the start of this year, Shifter said.
At a Moscow meeting last month, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze reportedly told Shultz in casual conversation that 13,000 Soviet Jews would be permitted to leave before the year ends. A State Department official said Shevardnadze may have misspoken or may not have been referring to the calendar year 1987, with only two months left.
The emigration of Soviet Jews so far this year, Shifter said, represents "a larger number than at any time in 1982-86, but substantially less than 1980 or 1979 or an average of the 1970s." Shifter, who is in charge of the department's Bureau of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, said "the key question
is whether those who do want to leave will feel free to apply in the future" or whether the potential penalties seem too high and too forbidding.
In a Washington news conference, the National Conference on Soviet Jewry announced a "Washington Mobilization" to demonstrate support for Jewish emigration on Sunday, Dec. 6, the day before Gorbachev is scheduled to begin his summit meeting here with President Reagan.
Jerry Goodman, executive director of the conference, said Jewish groups from throughout the country will demonstrate to show that "people will be watching" how Reagan and Gorbachev deal with human rights issues in their summit meeting.