Arab-Soviet hints of future ties?

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The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and the Soviet Union, states without formal diplomatic ties since the late 1930s, have held a meeting in Moscow, Monitor correspondent Ned Temko reports.

One Arab source said ''bilateral questions'' were touched upon. No further details were immediately available. The Saudi minister, Prince Saud Al Faisal, was here as part of an Arab delegation to explain a recent Mideast peace plan to the Soviets. But Prince Saud also met separately with his Soviet counterpart, Andrei Gromyko.

Arab and Western diplomats maintained it was too early to tell if the meeting might lead to reestablishment of ties between Moscow and the conservative Saudi regime, something the Soviets have long favored.

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But the diplomats also said the fact Prince Saud had chosen to meet separately with Mr. Gromyko seemed an indication the Saudis were ready at least to look into prospects for normalizing relations.

New Soviet Communist Party leader Yuri Andropov headed the Kremlin team for talks with the Arab delegation, which was led by Jordan's King Hussein. In addition to Mr. Andropov, Premier Nikolai Tikhonov and Foreign Minister Gromyko were on hand, but a source present at the talks said Mr. Andropov did the talking for the Soviet side.

Official accounts suggest Mr. Andropov, making no new policy departures, stressed the Kremlin's consistent public support for major Arab negotiating demands and said an opportunity existed for coordinating Soviet-Arab efforts toward a Mideast settlement.

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