Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko arrived in Damascus on Saturday (1 February) on a two-day official visit to Syria and immediately reaffirmed his country's support of the Arab cause.
SV PAN Gromyko down steps of aircraft and greeted by Khaddam
SV Gromyko presented with flowers from women and children
CU Russian flag on car
SV PAN Gromyko into car and away (2 shots)
SV PAN Interior Foreign Ministry FROM Khaddam seated TO CU Gromyko
MV PAN Gromyko and officials seated
Initials ET/945 ET/958
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko arrived in Damascus on Saturday (1 February) on a two-day official visit to Syria and immediately reaffirmed his country's support of the Arab cause.
In an airport statement, Mr Gromyko said: "I want to point out again that the Soviet Union's firm stand of principle towards the just cause of the Arab peoples has not changed at all."
The statement was seen as a response to recent criticism of the Soviet Union by Egypt's President Anwar Sadat for not replenishing Egyptian military equipment since the 1973 Yom Kippur war. The Egyptian leader has been particularly bitter over the fact that the Soviet Union has maintained a steady flow of new arms to Syria.
Mr. Gromyko -- the first Soviet leader to visit the Middle East since Communist Party Chief Leonid Brezhnev postponed a tour of Egypt, Syria and Iraq planned for last month -- will visit Egypt following his stay in Syria.
His airport statement in Damascus reiterated Soviet calls for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from areas occupied in the 1967 war, safe-guarding of the "national legitimate rights" of the Palestinians and a resumption of the Geneva peace talks.
Mr Gromyko was greeted at the airport by Syrian Foreign Minister and Deputy Premier Abdel Halim Khaddam, with whom he later had talks. On Sunday (2 February), Mr Gromyko was to confer with President Hafez Al-Assad and the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Yasser Arafat.