WASHINGTON — Secretary of State George P. Shultz, opening "a very, very busy" autumn of diplomacy, said today the superpowers are near an agreement on medium-range missiles that will have the strongest verification procedures in history.
In an interview with wire service reporters, Shultz--tan and fit after three weeks of vacation in California--also expressed confidence that such an agreement could win Senate ratification early next year.
Shultz returned to Washington over the Labor Day weekend to start preparations for his meeting next week with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze, seen as a prelude to a possible summit between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev later this year.
Although the Sept. 15-17 Shultz-Shevardnadze meeting in Washington will cover a host of issues, including human rights, the top of the agenda is expected to be basic agreement on a pact eliminating short- and medium-range nuclear missiles.
An agreement on medium-range weapons likely would be followed by a summit in which the pact would be signed.
"The verification regime that I think is in prospect is undoubtedly the strongest of any arms control agreement we've ever had," Shultz said.