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Historic Missile Treaty Signed : Leaders Pledge Further Efforts for Arms Control

December 08, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev today signed a historic treaty to eliminate intermediate-range missiles and together vowed to work toward a more ambitious arms control pact during their three days of summitry.

"We can be proud of planting this sapling which may one day grow into a mighty tree of peace," Gorbachev said at an elaborate signing ceremony in the White House East Room that was televised live in both nations.

"So let us reward ourselves by getting down to business."

Said Reagan: "For the first time in history, the language of arms control was replaced by arms reduction, in this case the complete elimination of an entire class of U.S. and Soviet missiles."

'Not End, but Beginning'

The President added that "we can only hope that this history-making agreement will not be an end in itself, but a beginning."

First Lady Nancy Reagan, Raisa Gorbachev and several hundred invited guests bore witness as the two leaders signed their names several times on the leather-bound treaties and other documents, and then shook hands vigorously and smilingly handed each other their copies.

A band played "Hail to the Chief" as Reagan and Gorbachev strode side by side down a red carpet into the East Room. The ceremony over, the two men left the room together and strolled down to the State Dining Room where they made speeches to U.S. and Soviet television audiences.

Negotiating Sessions

The signing ceremony was sandwiched between two negotiating sessions in Reagan's Oval Office, in which the two leaders met with only interpreters present and then with aides to discuss arms control and other issues. Tonight, Reagan arranged to host a black-tie White House dinner for the Gorbachevs.

Senate Democratic leaders said they expected the treaty to be ratified barring unforeseen difficulties, even though conservatives have been critical of the pact. (Story on Page 2.)

The signing took place only hours after one final negotiating hitch was resolved. American officials pronounced themselves satisfied with a photograph, supplied belatedly by the Soviets, of a typical SS-20 missile that is to be destroyed.

Warheads to Be Removed

Under the treaty, more than 1,500 Soviet nuclear warheads would be removed from European soil and destroyed within the next three years, and 400 American warheads would be dismantled.

It was a day that combined pageantry with statecraft, and saw the two leaders voice hope mixed with suspicion born of 40 years of Cold War hostilities.

At one point in his remarks, Reagan characterized the treaty with a few words of Russian. "Trust but verify," he said in a reference to stringent provisions aimed at guarding against cheating.

Gorbachev interrupted with a smile, "You repeat that at every meeting."

The laughter had scarcely died down when Reagan said, "I like it."

Reagan Conciliatory

Earlier, during a welcoming ceremony outside the White House, Reagan--who shaped his political career on anti-communism--struck a conciliatory stance as he exchanged greetings with Gorbachev.

"I have often felt our people should have been better friends long ago," he said.

For his part, Gorbachev twice in his public comments referred to the possibility of a "nuclear-free world."

In Lafayette Park across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, police broke up scuffles as hundreds of anti-Soviet demonstrators protested. A few blocks away, about 15 Jewish pickets were arrested for demonstrating illegally within 500 feet of the Soviet Embassy.

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