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Shultz's Talks With Soviet Collapse Over 'Star Wars' : Conference 'a Bust,' U.S. Official Says

November 06, 1986|From Times Wire Services

VIENNA — U.S.-Soviet talks to put superpower relations on track collapsed today with each side blaming the other for the failure to unravel snarls over arms control that tangled up the Reykjavik summit.

Secretary of State George P. Shultz told reporters after his five hours of talks with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze over two days: "I can't say that the meetings have moved arms control matters along in any significant way, and I regret this."

Shevardnadze said he is returning to Moscow "with a bitter taste" after being confronted with "a mixed bag of old mothballed views and approaches."

Summing up the meetings, which took place while Shevardnadze and Shultz were in Vienna for a conference on human rights and East-West relations, one senior U.S. official said, "It was a bust."

Despite their charges against the other side, Shultz and Shevardnadze expressed the belief that progress will eventually be possible.

Shultz said that the U.S. team had come to the talks prepared to build on the progress made at Reykjavik but that the Soviets refused to discuss any issues except their objections to "Star Wars," the American Strategic Defense Initiative.

'Star Wars' in Iceland

The October summit in Iceland ended without agreement on a wide-ranging package of arms control proposals because of the sharp disagreement between President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Mikhail S. Gorbachev on the "Star Wars" defense shield.

U.S. officials said they had hoped that the Vienna talks would lead to another session in Moscow next month between the foreign ministers, which would have laid the groundwork for a superpower summit in the United States in early spring. That scenario has been discarded now, they said.

A senior American official told reporters after the breakup of the final Shultz-Shevardnadze meeting that he believed that the Soviets "were trying to lay the foundation for a public relations campaign against the United States."

Shevardnadze, as he left for Moscow, said at the Vienna airport: "One cannot avoid the impression that our partners wish to forget Reykjavik as soon as possible.

"Though the conversation with the numerous American team left us with a bitter taste, we do not lose hope that sooner or later leaders in Washington will understand. There is no way back."

Shultz told a news conference that the U.S. team arrived in the Austrian capital ready to turn the general agreements at Reykjavik on arms control into a detailed reality.

'We Have a Responsibility'

"Unfortunately," he said, "it has not been possible to move ahead as we had hoped."

But Shultz said he and the Soviet foreign minister "affirmed as two human beings and foreign ministers we have a responsibility . . . to keep after it."

U.S.-Soviet arms control talks in Geneva are to recess next week until January. Shultz offered to have U.S. and Soviet experts meet in the interim, but Shevardnadze apparently did not accept.

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