Moscow — An international religious conference on the threat of nuclear war began in Moscow, with evangelist Billy Graham seated on the rostrum amid leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Soviet-sponsored meeting, attended by some 450 clergymen from more than 80 countries, opened with criticism of US arms policies from the head of the Russian church, Patriarch Pimen.
Western diplomats said the meeting appeared intended for foreign consumption and was meant to show that Moscow and the church-backed peace movements in the West share common ideals. The White House was reported to have asked Mr. Graham to stay away from the conference.
Mr. Graham promised he will visit the Siberian Pentecostalist Christians taking refuge in the US Embassy. He had previously refused to answer questions about the Pentecostalist families living in the embassy basement since June 1978 , when they rushed past Soviet guards to seek help from American officials.