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Preliminaries Past, Arms Talks Begin in Earnest Today

March 14, 1985|From Times Wire Services

GENEVA — U.S. and Soviet arms delegations had only "administrative contact" Wednesday--the day of Soviet President Konstantin U. Chernenko's funeral--as each side prepared strategy for today's first working session of the new arms control talks.

The talks formally began Tuesday with a get-acquainted session between delegation leaders at the Soviet diplomatic mission.

Today's session, at the Geneva offices of the American Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, will include the three chief negotiators on each side who will start bargaining for reductions of long-range missiles, intermediate-range nuclear missiles, and space and defensive arms.

Officials said the only contacts between the two delegations Wednesday were on a staff level to nail down logistics.

American spokesman Joseph F. Lehman said U.S. negotiators Max M. Kampelman, Maynard W. Glitman and John Tower spent the day preparing for today's meeting, briefing members of Congress and consulting Washington.

Lehman said it was likely that Kampelman and Soviet delegation chief Viktor P. Karpov would present opening statements at today's meeting, but he did not indicate what such an American statement might say. Under rules set up Tuesday, the two sides will maintain "confidentiality" on the substance of the talks.

Eight senators and eight House members who were here as observers for the opening session of the talks left for Washington on Wednesday. Remaining in Geneva were Sens. Albert Gore (D-Tenn.) and Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).

Gore told the Associated Press that "with rare exceptions" at least one senator will be present in the Swiss city any time the talks are in session, even if the negotiations take years. He said he and Stevens had participated in working sessions of the U.S. delegation.

'Serious This Time'

Before departing, House Majority Leader Jim Wright (D-Texas) said he got the impression "the Soviet Union is serious this time about negotiating in good faith." He said a summit meeting between President Reagan and new Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev "would be helpful" in promoting progress in the talks.

Past arms talks have involved twice-weekly sessions, with rounds lasting two months followed by two-month breaks to allow delegations to return to their capitals and receive new instructions. That pattern will be retained, U.S. spokesmen said, although the current opening round may well be shorter.

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