VIENNA — Amid renewed hopes for progress in arms control, Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze will meet here today in an effort to salvage as much as possible from the Iceland summit talks.
Expectations are that the Kremlin will outline its new arms position here in private meetings of the two officials and will present it formally next week at the Geneva arms negotiations.
There is also some hope that the two sides will move toward creating a new negotiating forum--on nuclear testing--and perhaps return to discussions about a date for a new U.S.-Soviet summit meeting in Washington.
Both sides have insisted that real progress was made at the meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland, between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev on Oct. 11-12 before that meeting collapsed without agreement, primarily because of disagreement on the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative.
The United States introduced new proposals two weeks ago at the Geneva arms control talks on offensive and defensive strategic weapons. Essentially these were a reiteration of earlier U.S. positions, with some modifications to reflect the Iceland talks.
The Soviets have not yet presented their new proposals. Their chief negotiator, Ambassador Viktor P. Karpov, has been back in Moscow since the Reykjavik meeting, presumably formulating the new Kremlin stand.
In his absence, Soviet diplomats at Geneva have basically marked time. Partly because of this, and partly in anticipation of new Soviet proposals, the Geneva talks, which were to have ended Tuesday, have been extended for at least a week.
Meanwhile, Shultz told reporters on his aircraft en route to Vienna that he also intends to press Shevardnadze during the meetings to reconsider Moscow's support for Syria on the issue of Damascus' involvement in the attempted bombing of an Israeli airliner.
The secretary said he plans to remonstrate with his counterpart over Soviet complaints that Britain fabricated its charges of Syrian involvement in a plot to blow up an El Al Israel Airlines jumbo jet en route from London to Israel.
"The Soviet expressions about Syria are ones that I'm going to urge him (Shevardnadze) to reconsider in light of the facts," Shultz said. "This wasn't any trumped-up thing by the British."
Analysts base their relatively high expectations for the Shultz-Shevardnadze meeting here--it coincides with the latest review conference on the Helsinki accords--in part on the upbeat comments of Soviet officials and on post-summit conclusions that Gorbachev had wanted real progress at Reykjavik despite the disappointing outcome.
For example, Gennady I. Gerasimov, spokesman for the Soviet Foreign Ministry, has been quoted as saying that Shevardnadze would not come "empty-handed" to the Vienna meeting with Shultz.
Gorbachev himself said earlier this week that he favors another meeting with Reagan if it is based on understandings reached in Reykjavik, which, he maintained, have "brought about a fundamentally new international situation."
Although new Soviet arms proposals are expected here, experts caution that the new offers will not necessarily mean immediate advances beyond Reykjavik since the Soviets, for tactical negotiating purposes, may pull back some concessions they made there.
In post-summit comments, the Soviets have muddied their position sufficiently on key issues in all three areas of the Geneva arms talks--long-range offensive weapons, intermediate-range missiles and space defense matters--to make predictions about the new Soviet stance very difficult.
Linkage an Issue
In particular, some Soviet officials, including Gorbachev, have again tied progress on intermediate-range missiles to some curb on the U.S. space defense program, which is formally known as the Strategic Defense Initiative and popularly called "Star Wars."
Others have insisted that there was no linkage, and still others contend that negotiations on the offensive missiles can go forward but agreements cannot be signed until the space defense issues are also resolved.
One of the key differences between the U.S and Soviet positions--on how much work would be permitted on missile defenses over the next 10 years--has also been the subject of confusing, even conflicting statements from Moscow since the summit talks.
In Reykjavik, Gorbachev demanded that such work be restricted to research "within the walls of a laboratory." But a senior Soviet space scientist, Dr. Raold Sagdeev, recently told a U.N. meeting that by Soviet definition orbiting space stations are considered to be laboratories, thus suggesting that SDI research could be conducted in space.
On long-range strategic weapons, U.S. and Soviet experts in an all-night session at Reykjavik settled on the target of a five-year, 50% reduction--to a total of 1,600 "delivery vehicles" (land-based missiles, submarine-based missiles and bombers) carrying a total of 6,000 warheads.