USSR hits US on 'vital interests'

Amid tough Soviet rhetoric reminiscent of the cold war of the 1950s, the broad lines of an unyielding Soviet response to President Carter's State of the Union address are emerging here, Monitor correspondent David K. Willis reports.

The Soviet line now is to portray the United States as arrogating to itself the "right" to proclaim its vital interest worldwide. The Soviets keep silent about their own interests, which, as a superpower, it sees as similarly global.

Moscow displays public irritation with Mr. Carter personally. Some Westerners here think he is seen as a lame-duck leader who will be defeated in November. The Soviets much prefer Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

The Westerners believe that the Kremlin thinks it has between now and the November elections to be tough around the world without fear of strong US retaliation. All it really fears is a widespread boycott of the Olympic Games in July.

The Tass news agency said Thursday that Mr. Carter's State of the Union claim that the Persian Gulf area is a vital interest of the US was "absurd." America's real aim, according to Tass, is to allow its "monopolies" to control world oil supplies.

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