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The Washington Summit : Sees Conservatives as Problem : Gorbachev Makes Bid to U.S. Intellectuals

December 09, 1987|WILLIAM J. EATON | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — With the vigor, candor and humor that he has shown in street-corner appearances in his own country, Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev called Tuesday on some of America's best-known intellectuals and personalities to help him convince U.S. conservatives of the need for Soviet-American rapprochement.

Gorbachev addressed a diverse group of Americans who were invited to the Soviet Embassy. They included former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, former Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara, author Norman Mailer, astronomer Carl Sagan, economist John Kenneth Galbraith, actors Paul Newman and Robert DeNiro and Yoko Ono, widow of Beatle John Lennon.

Calling for a "new relationship" that will draw the United States and the Soviet Union closer together, the Soviet leader added: "We are all part of one and the same civilization. We are interconnected. Through science and technology, through the environment, through the challenges that are growing, all this prompts us and dictates that we should be united in our thoughts and actions."

He added: "The main trouble is that political circles have not come to realize the deep feeling among people for rapprochement."

Coming to Terms

World leaders as varied as Australia's Bob Hawke and Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, he said, have recently told him, "The most important thing is that you should begin coming to terms with the Americans."

Adopting this sentiment as his own, Gorbachev asked the opinion leaders for help in changing the minds of conservatives who oppose the treaty to eliminate ground-launched medium-range nuclear weapons that was signed Tuesday.

"I said to the President: 'We have started doing a very big thing,' " Gorbachev told the group shortly after the treaty-signing ceremony at the White House. "I would call this really a turning point."

Jesting that many in the audience wrote books--"even very long books"--the Soviet leader suggested they contribute their talents to the search for peace in an apparent effort to bypass Reagan and press Gorbachev's case for "new thinking" directly with the American people.

'Balance of Interests'

The Kremlin chief said he could not understand those American political leaders who have spoken against warmer relations between Moscow and Washington. The Soviet Union is not seeking to dominate the United States but wants only a "balance of interests," he said.

Many in the audience had attended an international peace forum in Moscow last February.

Before the formal meeting, Gorbachev and his wife, Raisa, mingled with their 60 guests for about 30 minutes, chatting through interpreters. At one point, Kissinger, a critic of the INF pact, held a lengthy private chat with Gorbachev but reporters allowed to see the event could not hear what they were saying.

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