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The Soviets are taking steps to bolster their claimighly sensitive section of the disputed Sino-Soviet borderime when their relations with Peking are as sour asoviet party newspaper reportedugust plans ofimportant Soviet Far Easternextensive agricultural development of two islands in the Ussuri River, which forms part of the Soviet-Manchurian frontier.
These islands are by far the most important of the moren the Amur and Ussuri that are subject to conflicting claims by Moscow and Peking. They amount to strips of land aboutiles long at the Amur-Usiuri confluence, which dominates Khabarovsk. Soviet officials have stressed that they view this area as particularly critical because of its strategic location, andis cloarly eager to consolidate its control. Development of the islands is billed innocently asartrogram announced at the July central committee plenum to increase Siberia's self-sufficiency in food production. Nevertheless. Moscow privately recognizes that the Chineseood legal case based on international law to support their claim to the islands, and ithopes that the island's development will enhance the shaky Soviet claim.
The Soviet leaders are aware thatreviving this crucial frontier issue runs the risk of triggering loud protests from Peking, which may be provoked to mount its ownprogram for disputed borderIn any event, the Soviet plan clearlythe lack of movement in the ten-month-old border negotiations and bodes ill for any progress in therevious round of border talks4 broke down, in part because of unresolved disputes over these islands. Until the appearance
Planning Development of Islands on Sino-Soviet Border
Page 7 WEEKLYAug 70
newspaper article, both sides had carefully avoided public mention of the islands nearsince the talks got under way last October.
Meanwhile, the widely rumored exchange of ambassadors between Moscow and Peking appears to have run into additional difficulties. Some rumors circulating in diplomatic circles innow allege that the Soviet nominee'sfor Peking has been further delayed because ofthers claim that he has beenin evading the assignment, which in effect would be diplomatic exile from Moscow politics, and that Moscow hasew candidate.
The impasse over the on-again-oM-again ambassadorial exchange has been complemented by an upsurge in Soviet polemics against Peking in the form of reprints of East European diatribes. One recent article displayed an unusual degree of Soviet concern over China's nuclear-missileand other articles have warned thai Peking is not to be trusted despite its adoptionore moderate foreign policy posture.
For its part. Peking used Ihe anniversary of the People's Liberation Army last week to focus attention on the Soviet military buildup. InPeking charged that Moscow "greedily eyes" Chinese territory, but this probably does not reflect concern over immediate Sovietintentions. Nevertheless. Moscow radio quickly responded by warning the Chinese that this kind of talk could "sabotage" the border negotiations.
Meanwhile, the Soviet military buildupalong the boider. Since early May. for example,oviet military transporthave been noted flying to the Far East Irpm their bases in the western USSR, flOriginal document.