WASHINGTON — Despite their differences over the detention of American journalist Nicholas Daniloff, the United States and the Soviet Union are making progress in a number of areas related to arms control, Administration officials confirmed Friday.
The latest evidence is a Soviet proposal advanced in Geneva, where arms control talks resumed Thursday, that would permit only a token missile force to be stationed in Europe. The two sides have been jockeying over numerical limits for medium-range missile warheads for months, with the United States resisting earlier Soviet proposals that would have eliminated all such superpower missiles from European soil.
"Our respective positions on numbers are getting closer and closer," a U.S. official said, adding that the Administration is prepared to accept virtually any number above zero as long as it is a reduction. The United States is reluctant to endorse a total ban because Western allied nations regard the missiles as a symbol of American commitment to the defense of Europe.
"Progress on arms control has been obscured by the political tensions over Daniloff," a White House official said. "While we've made it clear the Daniloff matter is impinging on U.S.-Soviet relations, that's not to say we're not going to do business--we are."