MOSCOW, JAN. 10 -- The Soviet Union expressed "deep regret" today at the outcome of the U.S.-Iraqi meeting in Geneva and appealed to Iraq to respond positively to appeals for withdrawal from Kuwait when United Nations Secretary General Javier Perez de Cueller visits Baghdad on Friday.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Vitaly Churkin said, in a prepared statement, "The Soviet Union is convinced that the most energetic political and diplomatic efforts must be made" to avoid armed conflict in the region. Churkin said Moscow would "make its contribution" to diplomatic efforts to avert war.
One of the Foreign Ministry's top Mideast specialists, Anatoly Filov, met today with Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat, but no details of their talks were provided. Churkin said Moscow "attaches great importance to the possibilities that the Palestinians have of exerting a positive influence on the position of Iraq."
Speaking Wednesday before the end of the Geneva talks, outgoing Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze told Christian Science Monitor television that while the situation in the Persian Gulf is unpredictable, "I'm deeply convinced that a solution acceptable to all of us can be found."
The official news agency Tass said 290 Soviet citizens remain in Iraq.