GENEVA — U.S. and Soviet negotiators began talks Sunday on last-minute obstacles to a superpower treaty scrapping intermediate-range nuclear missiles, due to be signed at a Washington summit in three weeks.
Chief U.S. negotiator Max M. Kampelman said his talks with Soviet negotiator Yuli M. Vorontsov will focus on measures to ensure against cheating on an accord.
"There are a few issues which remain, and I'm hoping that Ambassador Vorontsov and I can further help to narrow differences between us," Kampelman told a news conference on his arrival. "Maybe (we will) resolve them all, maybe not."
But he expressed confidence that the treaty will be ready for signing at the summit, scheduled to begin Dec. 7.
Before entering the first round of talks, a working dinner Sunday evening at the Soviet Mission, Kampelman told reporters: "I think we're both determined to complete our work before the summit."
"Otherwise we're going to be fired," Vorontsov quipped.
The meetings, due to last until Tuesday, resume this morning at the U.S. Mission.
The dinner meeting ended without a public statement after slightly less than two hours, a man answering the telephone at the Soviet Mission said.
Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze are awaiting the outcome. Should the negotiators fail, the foreign ministers will hold their third meeting on arms control since September.
Working out a rigid scheme to verify against cheating on a pact has been at the center of the controversy over the elusive accord to scrap all superpower ground-launched intermediate-range nuclear (INF) missiles.
"We will insist on having the best verification program we can get. This is essential," Kampelman said. "Now the Soviets indicate to us that they're in favor of verification as well. So we'll try to work something out."
Asked if this and other difficult treaty issues could be settled by the summit, he said: "Oh yes. I do believe that."