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Shultz, Shevardnadze to Meet on Arms, Other Items in September

July 28, 1987|ROBERT C. TOTH | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze and Secretary of State George P. Shultz are expected to meet here in mid-September to discuss arms control and other matters, U.S. officials said Monday.

The effect of the meeting date, which is about one month later than the United States had proposed, will probably be to push the next U.S.-Soviet summit into November or later.

Soviet Ambassador Yuri V. Dubinin told Shultz on Monday that Shevardnadze proposed visiting Washington 10 days to two weeks before the U.N. General Assembly convenes in late September. No firm date was set, but the Soviet timetable is likely to be accepted, officials said.

The United States had suggested a Shultz-Shevardnadze meeting in late July or August, with the prospect of a September or October summit if all went well.

Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev last week removed the biggest hurdle to an arms agreement by offering to agree to eliminate all intermediate-range nuclear missiles--those with a range of 300 to 3,000 miles--on either side. Previously, the Soviets had wanted to keep 100 warheads for such missiles in Asia, and a Shultz-Shevardnadze meeting was considered necessary to resolve the issue.

With details of that new Soviet position being thrashed out at the Geneva arms talks, one official said, Shultz and Shevardnadze would presumably have less of substance to discuss, and a meeting in mid-September might be productive mainly in eliminating new roadblocks that crop up during negotiations over the summer.

On the other hand, the new schedule will allow Moscow to keep the issue of West Germany's Pershing I-A missiles and their American nuclear warheads boiling in an apparent effort to create further strains in Bonn's coalition government as well as between the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The United States controls the nuclear warheads for the 72 missiles. Soviet officials have demanded that the United States withdraw its warheads from West Germany as part of the broader U.S.-Soviet agreement to eliminate intermediate-range missiles.

The United States has refused to negotiate with Moscow about any aspect of "third country systems," a position that State Department spokesman Charles Redman reiterated Monday. Administration officials are impatient with the Soviet campaign against the German Pershings, insisting that the issue was previously settled at the summit in Reykjavik, Iceland, in October.

At Reykjavik, President Reagan insisted during a two-hour session with Gorbachev that the United States would not negotiate about the weapons held by its allies. Gorbachev eventually accepted this position, U.S. officials said.

But the Soviets apparently seek to pressure the Bonn coalition, already divided on the issue, to give up the weapons unilaterally or to indicate that it has no plans to modernize them. Since they will become obsolete in the next five to 10 years, and since the agreement is to eliminate all such U.S. and Soviet weapons in a five-year period, the problem of the German Pershings is expected to disappear within a foreseeable period.

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