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Last-Minute Missile Talks Held Snagged on Monitoring Issue

November 23, 1987|Associated Press

GENEVA — American and Soviet arms experts failed today to clear all obstacles blocking a superpower treaty on elimination of intermediate-range nuclear missiles, which is supposed to be signed in two weeks.

Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A Shevardnadze authorized a U.S. spokesman, Charles E. Redman, to describe the day's talks as "constructive." More talks were scheduled Tuesday.

A U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said at least one key issue was unresolved: the designation of a U.S. ballistic missile plant for the Soviets to monitor.

Redman said U.S. and Soviet arms experts, in three separate meetings, "made progress, but there are still things to be done."

The Soviets have acceded to a U.S. demand to observe the assembly of Soviet SS-25 missiles to ensure that the intercontinental weapons are not modified illegally to replace outlawed SS-20s.

The goal is to resolve the outstanding obstacles by Tuesday, giving lower-level negotiators two weeks to draft a final text for President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev to sign Dec. 9.

The group, appointed today by Shultz and Shevardnadze, was headed on the U.S. side by Paul H. Nitze, senior arms control adviser, and by Marshal Sergei Akhromeyev, chief of the Soviet general staff.

Another U.S.-Soviet team, led by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Rozanne L. Ridgway and Anatoly Adamyshin, a Soviet deputy foreign minister, worked separately on human rights, regional and bilateral issues.

Shultz and Shevardnadze met for more than five hours today, concentrating on setting a schedule for the summit.

Gorbachev is due to arrive in Washington on Dec. 7 and meet with Reagan Dec. 8-10. The treaty to eliminate nearly 1,000 U.S. and Soviet intermediate-range missiles is the designated centerpiece of the summit.

In Washington, Reagan said it would be "hasty to assume that we are at the point where we are ready to put pen to paper.

"In at least one important area, verification, the treaty is not yet complete," he told supporters.

Shultz and Shevardnadze posed for photographers, who asked them to shake hands. They dodged the few questions reporters were able to ask.

"The talks are always businesslike, straightforward and constructive," Shultz said. "That's always been true of my talks with the foreign minister. It's true this time."

"That's a tradition," Shevardnadze said, amiably.

Asked if they had made any progress, Shultz replied: "Well, we've had good, constructive and businesslike talks."

Both men have voiced confidence that Reagan and Gorbachev will be signing a completed treaty to scrap all medium- and shorter-range ground-based nuclear missiles when the leaders meet for 1952998688

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