"Kissinger's mission was a complete failure," crowed the official Communist Party newspaper Pravda last week, quoting stories in American newspapers to support that evidently gratifying conclusion. There was indeed cause for some smugness in the Kremlin. As a result of the breakdown of U.S. mediation efforts, the U.S.S.R. stood to gain in prestige, influence and possible strategic advantage in the Middle East. Long outshone and outmaneuvered by Kissinger's diplomatic initiatives, and locked out of vital negotiations since the suspension of the 1973 Geneva Conference, the Soviet Union now has a better chance than ever before of playing a major role...

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