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Talks Resume on Long-Range Missile Treaty

January 14, 1988|United Press International

GENEVA — U.S. and Soviet delegates resumed talks today with instructions to reach agreement on an ambitious 50% cut in long-range strategic nuclear weapons by mid-year.

President Reagan noted the start of the talks with a stern note, saying in a written statement at the White House, "A START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) agreement can be reached this year if the Soviets return to Geneva ready to apply themselves with the same seriousness as the United States.

"The United States seeks a sound agreement and we will not negotiate against arbitrary deadlines. It remains my operating principle that we would rather have no agreement than accept a bad one."

Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev directed delegations to try to prepare a START agreement in time for the next superpower summit in Moscow in May or June.

But negotiators on both sides conceded that chances for a quick agreement are dim because of the complexity of verification and other issues. Officials pointed to the "back-busting" problem of monitoring sea-launched cruise missiles that could be concealed on ships by the hundreds.

Begun With Luncheon

The new round of arms talks began with a luncheon hosted by the Soviets at their diplomatic mission.

Besides the verification problem, Soviet chief negotiator Alexei Obukhov has said Moscow makes any START accord conditional on strict restraints on Star Wars space anti-missile programs.

Reagan has said he is prepared to extend the 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty for seven years as part of a START accord but rejects the Soviet position that advanced Star Wars testing would then be prohibited.

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