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U.S. Gives Qualified OK to Arms Talks : Puts Conditions on Willingness to Discuss Rejection of SALT II

July 14, 1986|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The United States gave its qualified approval today to a Soviet proposal that the two superpowers discuss President Reagan's controversial decision to abandon the SALT II treaty.

A White House spokesman refused to say whether the Soviet proposal had been accepted or rejected. But another U.S. official, who demanded anonymity, said the United States had agreed to a meeting in Geneva on July 22--but only if other issues could be raised.

Although the U.S. response did not specify what matters U.S. representatives would bring up at the meeting, the official said he doubts that it will take place unless Moscow agrees to a broad agenda.

The United States recently complained that the Soviets had refused to meet to discuss alleged Soviet violations of various accords, including the unratified SALT II treaty.

At the White House, spokesman Edward Djerejian told reporters that "the President has completed his examination" of the Soviet request for a special meeting on Reagan's decision, "and we have communicated with the Soviet Union through diplomatic channels. We will withhold any further comment until this process is completed."

No Outright Rejection

Djerejian's suggestion that more communication was called for seemed to suggest the United States had not rejected the proposal outright, as sources said the Pentagon had recommended.

The spokesman said the Administration might have more to say later, but he pointed out that discussions of the Special Consultative Commission, which is the panel the Soviets suggested should meet on the issue, are held "in strict confidentiality. Even the fact that a meeting at times takes place is kept in confidence."

After Reagan's announcement that the United States would no longer be bound by the limits set out in the 1979 Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT II), the Soviets asked for a special session July 22 of the Special Consultative Commission, which meets in Geneva periodically to discuss the two sides' compliance with existing arms control agreements.

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