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Britain to bail out Kremlin?

The British Foreign Office has denied reports that it has received a message from the Soviet Union urging Britain to launch a diplomatic initiative on Afghanistan.

A story by political editor John Dickinson in the Evening News of London Feb. 27 quoted at length from a so-called "informal message" from "high-level sources close to President Brezhnev." The message hinted that Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington might use his diplomatic skills to "institute further talks between Russia and the West." Such talks might lead to an election in Afghanistan that would permit a withdrawal of Soviet troops.

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Mr. Dickinson's story names no source. Observers here, however, speculate that it might come from Victor Louis, a highly placed Soviet correspondent who has written for the paper in the past, and that the story might be a kite-flying venture to test the diplomatic winds.

Lord Carrington has been consulting within the European Community on his plan for a neutral Afghanistan. The other eight EC countries have agreed to what officials here call "the bones" of the plan, although they still have to "flesh out" details.

Lord Carrington is known to feel that there is an urgency about the Afghanistan situation. Government officials say he found President Brezhnev's speech on Afghanistan Feb. 22 "not totally discouraging."

The past few days have also seen an unusual flutter of British-European diplomatic movements, including an unscheduled and sudden 1 3/4 hour meeting between Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt at Downing Street on Feb. 25.


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