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Soviets Decry U.S. Arms Proposals as 'Political Theater of the Absurd'

November 11, 1986|United Press International

MOSCOW — Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze said Monday that U.S. arms proposals made last week in Vienna amount to "the political theater of the absurd" and accused the United States of trying to undermine progress made at the Iceland summit.

But Shevardnadze said the Soviet Union is in favor of another meeting between Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev and President Reagan, providing that it would produce an arms control agreement.

Shevardnadze said any agreement must be based on the elimination of nuclear weapons--the fundamental issue the Soviets say was agreed to at the Oct. 11-12 summit in Reykjavik, Iceland.

The summit apparently collapsed in failure when Reagan refused to exchange deep cuts in nuclear arsenals for limits on the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative, a research program for a space-based missile defense called "Star Wars."

After the summit, a dispute arose over what was being negotiated. Moscow said Reagan agreed in principle to eliminate all nuclear weapons in the next 10 years, while Reagan said that while this was discussed, the proposals primarily were aimed toward scrapping only strategic missiles.

Shevardnadze said an arms agreement seems unlikely because Reagan was revising the outcome of the Iceland meeting and basing new arms proposals on a "distorted" view.

Shevardnadze's remarks were made during a news conference Monday, four days after a meeting with Secretary of State George P. Shultz in Vienna that produced no new movement on arms control.

"In Vienna, two conceptions, two diametrically opposed approaches, confronted each other," the Soviet foreign minister said. "What the United States offered in Vienna was the political theater of the absurd."

"The Soviet Union was out to create the base for practical implementation of the agreements reached at Reykjavik, while the United States tried to secure positions which lead to the erosion of the Reykjavik soil," he said.

Shevardnadze accused Shultz of seeking "to replace the Reykjavik package with a Vienna package from which the key agreement was removed and other agreements were dissolved."

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