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Arms Talks Seen as Bogged Down : Shevardnadze May Cancel U.S. Trip, Soviet Official Says

July 03, 1987|WILLIAM J. EATON | Times Staff Writer

MOSCOW — Soviet-American arms control talks in Geneva are so bogged down that Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze may not go to Washington in mid-July to meet with Secretary of State George P. Shultz, a Soviet spokesman said Thursday.

The bleak appraisal was given by Boris Pyadyshev, a senior Foreign Ministry official, as he denied published reports that Moscow had made a new offer that could clinch agreement on abolition of medium-range nuclear missiles.

Pyadyshev charged that American negotiators at arms talks in Geneva were putting forward new proposals that complicated the bargaining and had slowed down progress.

"If there is no progress at the negotiations, why should the Soviet (foreign) minister go to Washington?" he asked at a news briefing.

'I Could Nearly Agree'

Asked if the Soviet side believed that Shultz and Shevardnadze would not be able to break the impasse, the spokesman replied, "I could nearly agree with that."

Edward L. Rowny, a senior adviser on arms control to President Reagan, said recently that the two foreign secretaries had agreed to meet in Washington in the middle of this month to clear away obstacles to agreement and lay the groundwork for another Soviet-American summit.

Pyadyshev strongly denied a report in the New York Times that said Soviet Col. Gen. Nikolai V. Chervov had suggested compromise proposals several weeks ago to Maynard W. Glitman, chief U.S. negotiator on medium-range weapons.

"Chervov made no proposals," Pyadyshev said. "He is not authorized to do so. There was no understanding between them (Chervov and Glitman). There is none."

Issue of Warheads in Asia

According to the report, Moscow offered to drop its insistence on keeping 100 nuclear warheads on medium-range missiles in Asia, going along with the American position on this issue.

In return, according to the disputed account, the United States would drop its plans to convert ground-launched cruise missiles in Europe to sea-launched missiles or convert medium-range Pershing 2 missiles in Europe into shorter-range weapons without nuclear warheads that would be provided to West Germany.

Meantime, former President Jimmy Carter took a more upbeat attitude about the Geneva talks at a news conference he held here a day after talking with Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev.

"My own belief is that the negotiators are near enough to reach an agreement (on medium-range missiles) that could be ratified during President Reagan's term of office," Carter said. He declined, however, to divulge what Gorbachev told him during their 90-minute conversation in the Kremlin on Wednesday.

'The Finishing Strokes'

In his briefing, Pyadyshev said that most of the differences on a medium-range missile pact should be ironed out in Geneva, leaving Shultz and Shevardnadze to apply only "the finishing strokes to an agreement which could lead to a new summit."

He insisted, however, that Chervov, who often appears in Moscow as a spokesman on military issues, did not even hint at the possibility of a compromise in his talk with Glitman.

"Perhaps some ideas were put out by the other side but not by ours," he said.

Reagan and Gorbachev agreed at their Iceland summit last October to eliminate medium-range missiles in Europe but retain 100 warheads apiece for deployment inside the territory of each nation. Shultz has said that the United States agreed reluctantly to retention of 100 warheads on each side and now wants to eliminate the entire class of weapons, making verification simpler.

Going Beyond Reykjavik

Last month, in apparent acceptance of a proposal made by Gorbachev in April, Reagan announced that the United States would push for an arms control accord that would go beyond the Reykjavik agreement, eliminating not only medium-range but short-range nuclear missiles worldwide.

Senior Western diplomats in Moscow have complained that the Soviet Union was raising new issues at the Geneva arms talks by insisting on elimination of 72 short-range West German missiles that are fitted with U.S.-controlled nuclear warheads.

Despite occasional sharp exchanges, both the Soviet Union and the United States appeared to be moving closer to a "double zero" agreement for Europe that would eliminate both intermediate nuclear forces, which embrace two classes of missiles with ranges varying from 600 to 3,000 miles, from the continent.

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