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Shultz, Soviets Set Pre-Summit Talks : Seek to Negotiate Most Issues Before Reagan, Gorbachev Meet in Geneva

October 26, 1985|NORMAN KEMPSTER | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze, carefully drafting the script for the upcoming Geneva summit, conferred for more than two hours Friday and agreed to meet again in Moscow on Nov. 4 and 5.

There, Shultz and Shevardnadze hope to agree on the wording of a statement on U.S.-Soviet relations to be issued by President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev at the end of their talks Nov. 19-20, senior U.S. officials said.

As Shultz and Shevardnadze made clear in brief statements after a breakfast meeting here at the U.S. Mission across the street from the United Nations, they intend to negotiate in advance most issues that Reagan and Gorbachev will consider in Geneva, separating areas of possible agreement from subjects on which compromise is unlikely.

Shultz and Shevardnadze on Friday discussed all the issues that are expected to come up at the Reagan-Gorbachev summit, according to U.S. officials.

'Intense Conversations'

"We've had a series of intense and searching conversations, and I think that we've made genuine progress in this preparatory process," Shultz said. "But at the same time, I would have to say that there are major differences that need to be resolved. We hope that some of them at least will be resolved before the meeting in Geneva."

Shevardnadze said: "There are certain positive moments in our discussion; there are also differences and the last stage before the Geneva summit meeting will be the visit of the secretary of state to Moscow."

In Moscow, the official news agency Tass reacted harshly to President Reagan's proposal to put disputes between guerrillas and Soviet-backed governments in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Ethiopia and Nicaragua on the summit agenda. A Tass commentary charged that Reagan's speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday ignored the "burning issue" of arms control and "flagrantly misrepresented" the turmoil in those five countries. (See story, Page 16.)

Friday's meeting was the fourth between the two men since Shevardnadze succeeded Andrei A. Gromyko as foreign minister in July.

In Moscow, Shultz will meet Gorbachev for only the second time. Shevardnadze has met Reagan twice, including a half-hour meeting Thursday in New York. But Reagan and Gorbachev have never met.

Influence on Agenda

The procedure seems to strengthen Shultz's hand within the Administration by giving him the most influence over setting the summit agenda. White House national security adviser Robert C. McFarlane also has attended all of the Shultz-Shevardnadze meetings, but other Administration officials, including Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger, have not participated in the preliminary talks and therefore have had less control over what the two leaders will discuss.

Until recent weeks, as officials prepared for the first U.S.-Soviet summit in six years, both sides were talking about the possibility of substantive progress on matters ranging from arms control to a resumption of New York-Moscow airline service. But it is now clear that the two nations are too far apart on most specific issues to permit Reagan and Gorbachev to announce any breakthroughs.

Instead, the United States now envisions a general statement of U.S.-Soviet objectives.

"One of the objectives that we have for the Geneva meeting is to set out an agenda for the future, to have a sense of direction of where we think and they think this relationship should go, not only between the United States and the Soviet Union but between East and West more generally," Shultz said.

A senior U.S. official added: "We do not look to the Geneva meeting to produce full-fledged, detailed agreements. We look to the meeting to produce impulses for the negotiations that are already going on."

The secretary of state said that the summit might produce some progress on arms control, but he said there is no real chance of a detailed agreement being reached by Reagan and Gorbachev. That will be left to the arms control negotiations which began earlier this year, also in Geneva.

Possible Counteroffer

White House chief of staff Donald T. Regan, interviewed on NBC television, seemed to suggest that the United States is preparing a counteroffer on arms control. This would be in response to Gorbachev's recent call for a 50% reduction in offensive nuclear weapons on both sides, coupled with an end to Washington's plans to develop the Strategic Defense Initiative, also known as "Star Wars."

Asked if there would be a new U.S. proposal, Regan said: "Oh, yes, certainly. We'll have a response at the proper time."

But U.S. officials said later that the President has not yet determined what step the United States will take next. One official said that Regan's remarks had been "blown out of proportion."

In a separate interview on ABC television, McFarlane said that the latest Soviet arms control plan provides "a basis for negotiation."

In Moscow, Shultz and Shevardnadze plan to follow a format similar to that at their earlier meetings in Vienna, Helsinki and here.

"We are refining, refining, refining (positions) to get away from the misunderstandings that we each might have of the other's views," a senior U.S. official said. "What we are doing is all of the work that makes it possible for the leaders, when they meet, to use their time together" most effectively.

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