WASHINGTON — Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze brought a letter to President Reagan today that he said did not contain a proposed date for a superpower summit. But he added that "a summit is necessary."
"There are good things in that letter," Shevardnadze said, without elaboration.
Reagan and Shevardnadze, accompanied by translators and Secretary of State George P. Shultz, met in the Oval Office and then adjourned to the Rose Garden for the signing of an agreement to establish "nuclear risk reduction centers" in the two capitals to lessen the chance of accidental war.
Reagan declined to say whether any progress was made on arms control or other subjects in the first round of talks between Shultz and Shevardnadze. "We're just beginning," he said.
Shevardnadze declined to tell reporters what was in the letter from Gorbachev. "If I tell you, what shall I tell the President?" he said.
Asked if it proposed a summit date, he said, "No date, but a summit is necessary."
Earlier, after nearly three hours of discussions at the State Department, Shultz said, "We had a very good meeting, between the minister and I, thorough and constructive."
The Soviet foreign minister, reflecting a mutually upbeat mood, joked to reporters and photographers: "We have come here in order to tell you that the ministers have decided everything."
Signs of Flexibility
As Shevardnadze opened his three-day visit, there were signs of flexibility in the U.S. effort to nail down a treaty to ban intermediate-range nuclear missiles and to reduce more potent strategic arsenals, as well.
Shevardnadze flashed a thumbs-up sign upon his arrival and said he was in a "good" mood. Then, as he left for a brief respite at the Soviet Embassy before a White House meeting with Reagan, he said he felt "OK."
Shultz declined, however, to clear up what was on everyone's mind: Whether they had discussed a date for Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev to come here to see Reagan.
With a wave of his hand, Shultz turned aside a question on the subject from a reporter as he and Shevardnadze posed for pictures with the U.S. and Soviet delegations in an eighth-floor reception room.
Risk Reduction Centers
The meeting at the State Department preceded the signing at the White House of an agreement to establish "nuclear risk reduction centers" in the two capitals to lessen the chance of accidental war.
The two sides offered downbeat forecasts before the talks opened. But this did not disguise the fact that their shared hope was to accelerate a treaty to ban intermediate-range nuclear missiles for signing at a summit meeting.
Several issues remain unresolved. But in an effort to close the gap, U.S. negotiators in Geneva offered also to ban missiles in that range that are capable of carrying non-nuclear charges, a U.S. official said.