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Arab delegation visits Moscow

The arrival Monday of an Arab diplomatic delegation to Moscow amid the fighting in Lebanon represents good news and bad for the Kremlin, writes Monitor correspondent Ned Temko.

The Soviets have been seeking a place in the Arab-Israeli diplomatic arena, and the Americans have been just as intent on preventing this. The dispatch of a team of foreign ministers from Kuwait, Morocco, and the Palestine Liberation Organization - part of an Arab initiative hatched in Saudi Arabia that wants the UN Security Council to help get Israeli troops out of Lebanon - is viewed by diplomats here partly as a product of wide Arab displeasure with US handling of the crisis.

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Yet the Palestinian member of the delegation, PLO ''foreign minister'' Farouk Khaddoumi, was quoted on departure for Moscow as saying the Soviets should do more than denounce the Israelis and the Americans, and consider, instead, ''drastic'' moves to counter the Israeli invasion. This presumably would go beyond a Kremlin airlift to Damascus that is resupplying the Syrians for arms and equipment lost in clashes with the Israelis in Lebanon.

Meanwhile, the Soviets originally hoped for a different sort of Arab delegation. Informed Arab sources said the Kremlin invited the secretary-general of the Arab League for talks that were intended as a public demonstration of Soviet political support for the Arab cause at a time when Israel, toting US-made weaponry, was perched on the outskirts of Beirut.

But senior Arab diplomats said the Arab League chief, who had accepted the invitation, decided to postpone his visit after the Security Council decided to act on the Lebanon crisis.

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