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Gorbachev Links Summit to Arms Control Progress

February 25, 1986|Associated Press

MOSCOW — Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev opened the 27th Communist Party Congress today and said that the timing of a second superpower summit with President Reagan depends on progress in arms control.

In his speech before 5,000 delegates and foreign guests at the first congress in five years, the 54-year-old party chief also criticized the "negativism" of the Leonid I. Brezhnev years, outlined economic reforms and chastised those who might want a return to the old ways.

The last party congress was held in 1981 under Brezhnev.

Gorbachev said that when he and Reagan met last Nov. 19-20 in Geneva, they agreed to meet again this year, but that a date and site has not been set.

"The significance that we attach to (a second summit) is that it ought to produce practical results in key areas of limiting and reducing armaments," Gorbachev said in his nationally televised address at the Kremlin Palace of Congresses.

He said an understanding could be reached on ending nuclear tests, and eliminating Soviet and U.S. medium-range nuclear missiles from Europe.

"And then, as a matter of fact, if there is readiness to seek agreement, the question of the time of the meeting would be resolved of itself. We will accept any suggestion on this count," he said.

"But there is no sense in holding empty talks," he added.

He complained that Reagan's new disarmament proposal, delivered Sunday in Moscow, had too many linkages, including Soviet acceptance of "Star Wars," or the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative for a space-based missile defense system. However, he said the Reagan letter, a response to Soviet proposals made Jan. 15, needed further study.

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