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Reagan Differs With Gorbachev on SDI, to Go Ahead With It

December 15, 1987|United Press International

WASHINGTON — Four days after he said "Star Wars" was no longer an "impediment" in East-West relations, President Reagan today said he is "in disagreement" with Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev on the issue of testing and deployment of the anti-missile system and "we are going forward" with it.

Reagan made the firm, terse remarks at the start of a meeting in the Cabinet room with a task force of Republican senators who will study the fine print of the newly signed treaty to eliminate medium-range missiles in Europe and Asia.

"We are in disagreement," Reagan told reporters when asked to explain why he said last week that the issue was resolved when Gorbachev on Monday denied that the matter was settled at last week's summit meeting.

"This was a simple thing. They took their position and we took ours and it's put that way in the communique that we are going forward," Reagan said.

'We're Going Forward'

Asked if they had agreed to disagree, he said, "Uh huh."

Reagan said the matter was resolved and "we're going forward with SDI (the Strategic Defense Initiative.)"

Asked if he thought it would interfere with the drive for a 50% reduction in the superpower strategic arsenals, Reagan said, "No."

The President told a regional news conference Friday that the matter of forging ahead with his dream of the futuristic SDI was "resolved" and that he will deploy the system, which he has called a "gigantic gas mask" to protect the nation from incoming missiles, when it is ready.

Gorbachev Charges Ruse

Gorbachev returned to Moscow and in a major address said that any talk that they had settled their differences over Star Wars was a ruse to accelerate the program. "I will frankly say these are dangerous tendencies, and they shall not be underestimated," the Soviet leader said. "They can undermine the nascent turn in the process of the demilitarization of international relations."

On the question of Nicaragua, Reagan revealed that Gorbachev had said that he was "going forward with the peace plan" initiated by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sanchez "and they would withhold all aid to the Sandinista government in order to do so."

When asked if the Soviets would no longer ship any weapons to the Sandinista government in Managua, Reagan said that Gorbachev "did specify there might be some small arms for the police."

Dole, Bush Present

Sitting next to Reagan was Senate Republican leader Bob Dole of Kansas, who wants to study the treaty for intermediate-range nuclear forces and choose the members of the task force.

Across the Cabinet table was Vice President George Bush. Both Dole and Bush are seeking the Republican presidential nomination. Bush has given the INF treaty his total backing.

Dole said after the meeting that he and other Republicans "want to be of as much help as we can" in gaining Senate ratification of the summit treaty.

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