WASHINGTON — Vice President George Bush met privately with Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev today, but in an unexpected twist, was forced by extended arms negotiations to wait more than 90 minutes at the Soviet Embassy before accompanying him to the White House.
Anticipating a session that would help boost his foreign policy credentials, Bush arrived at the Soviet Embassy, three blocks north of the White House, at 9 a.m. He and Gorbachev met alone for 23 minutes in the embassy's Red Room, beneath a painting of old Moscow.
The two men, joined by their wives, then had breakfast. Also in attendance were Secretary of State George P. Shultz, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze and several guests Bush invited--including two Iowans and Republican Gov. John H. Sununu of New Hampshire, a prominent Bush supporter.
Important Political States
Iowa and New Hampshire are the two states where early Republican delegate selection is critical to his 1988 election chances.
A scheduled 10:30 a.m. departure was delayed, forcing the vice president to remain in the embassy until noon, when he finally accompanied Gorbachev to the White House for his final scheduled session with Reagan.
Earlier, during a picture-taking session, Gorbachev was asked by reporters if he expected a breakthrough on Afghanistan and he said, "I think it is possible, but you need two" people to reach agreement.
Bush, asked if there were any new agreements, noted, "I think they've got some, but I'm trying to keep expectations under control."
As the vice president, the Soviet leader and their guests settled down for breakfast, Bush was asked if he did not believe his guest list was political.
"You're accusing the chairman of the National Governors' conference--elected by all the Democrats and Republicans--of being political?" he shot back, referring to Sununu.
Other guests were former Rep. Cooper Evans of Iowa; Robert Brooks, a West Des Moines, Iowa, school principal; Mayor Henry Cisneros of San Antonio, a Democrat on good terms with the vice president, and Mary Good, president of the American Chemical Society.
Range of Experience
A Bush aide said the guests were invited because they brought expertise in areas such as urban affairs and education and would be able to give the Soviet leader "a sense of what direction the country is headed in."
Bush's meeting was viewed by many as a chance for him to showcase himself in a high-profile foreign affairs environment--a potential political plus for the vice president, who is engaged in a six-way race for the GOP nomination.