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Reagan Says He Will Press Human Rights at Summit

December 03, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Reagan vowed today to press Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev on human rights problems, saying that political prisoners, dissidents and divided families will be "unseen guests" at next week's superpower summit.

In a speech to 185 human rights activists, Reagan said, "We see the violation of anyone's human rights, acts of repression or brutality, as attacks on civilization itself."

To set the stage for the summit, Reagan also scheduled an afternoon interview at the White House with television anchormen. The session, for broadcast on prime-time television tonight, came three days after NBC News aired an hourlong interview with Gorbachev.

The Soviet leader questioned the motive of the United States in its campaign for freer emigration of Soviet Jews. "What they're organizing is a brain drain," Gorbachev said. "And of course we're protecting ourselves. . . . We will never accept a condition when the people are being exhorted from outside to leave their country."

On Summit Agenda

Human rights is one of the four major themes on Reagan's summit agenda, along with arms control, bilateral relations involving trade and cultural exchanges, and regional conflicts in Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf, Nicaragua and elsewhere.

On arms control, the Administration said it intends to comply with a congressional restriction limiting testing of the Star Wars missile defense program to within a narrow interpretation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

However, presidential spokesman Marlin Fitzwater insisted anew that a broad interpretation of the ABM treaty, permitting more realistic tests, is legally justified.

Reagan, in his speech, said the United States is trying to improve relations with Moscow but "we will not do it by compromising our national interests or diminishing our commitment to the universality of human rights."

He said the world looks to the United States "as a mighty source of hope to those who languish under tyranny. This is a weighty responsibility that no American, especially a President, can take lightly."

'Sitting Next to Me'

"In my upcoming meetings," Reagan said, "I know that sitting next to me will be unseen guests, men and women whose only hope is that they're not forgotten here in the West: dissidents who are inhumanely committed to mental institutions, often subdued with mind-altering drugs; Soviet Jews, Armenians, Germans and others who have applied to emigrate and have endured incredible hardships as a result; divided families and spouses who are cruelly separated from their loved ones.

"These people are not now, nor will they ever be, forgotten by our Administration."

He said that the Soviet Union has made "modest progress" and that "in the last two years, we've witnessed a loosening of the grip. Over 200 political prisoners have been released from the Gulag. There's a higher rate of emigration. Some long-divided families have been reunited."

Reagan said, "The free people of the West are watching to see if the emigration doors, now cracked, will continue to open."

He said the release of prisoners and reunification of families is not enough. "The real joy will come, and trust between East and West will flourish, not only when prisoners are released, but when the instruments of repression are dismantled and repressive laws and practices are abolished."

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