WASHINGTON — Secretary of State George P. Shultz told Republican senators today that a vote Wednesday to override President Reagan's veto of congressional sanctions against South Africa would undermine his negotiating position in next month's hurry-up summit session with Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev.
At the same time, the White House announced today that President Reagan will nominate the U.S. ambassador to Liberia, Edward J. Perkins, as the first black American ambassador to South Africa.
One participant in the meeting with Shultz, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) told reporters no votes were changed.
Grassley said Shultz told a group of 9 or 10 Republican senators that "if the Senate overrides the veto on South Africa it would weaken the President's bargaining position and his foreign policy authority."
Subjects Not Related
But Grassley said he did not find Shultz's argument persuasive because U.S. policy toward South Africa "should not be a driving force" in talks with the Soviet Union.
Reagan, battered by Monday's 313-83 House vote to override his veto of sanctions legislation (Story, Page 10), is facing heavy odds as he battles to convince the Republican-controlled Senate to sustain his position.
Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, in whose office the session was held, said he "asked my colleagues to hold their fire and give the President an opportunity to visit with them. I believe the veto ought to be sustained."
Negative Factor Seen
The Kansas Republican said Shultz told senators that "it wouldn't be of any help to the President when he sits down with Mr. Gorbachev to have been clobbered by the Congress on a foreign policy issue."
Earlier, Dole urged senators in a speech on the floor to give special consideration to foreign policy and defense issues over the next several days, keeping the importance of the Reagan-Gorbachev meeting in mind.
"When President Reagan sits down across the table from Gorbachev--when the two men look each other in the eye--I want Gorbachev to see a President who has the clear and strong support of the Congress and the people, and who has the unquestioned mandate to speak for all of us on foreign policy issues."
Veto Backing Slim
Dole has said it will be "very difficult" for Reagan to prevail in the Senate, which approved sanctions, 84 to 14, on Aug. 15.
The Perkins nomination, which had been expected, was seen as another part of Reagan's effort to stave off an embarrassing congressional defeat.
Perkins, 58, was the third black asked to take the sensitive post to succeed retiring Ambassador Herman Nickel, who is white.
Previously, North Carolina businessman Robert Brown was in line for the job, but he turned it down after questions were raised about his business dealings while a member of the Nixon Administration.
Then, the ambassador to Denmark, Terence Todman, passed word he was not interested in the appointment.