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Reagan to Attend Moscow Summit May 29 to June 2 : He's Unsure A-Pact Will Be Signed

March 23, 1988|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Reagan announced today he will go to Moscow for his fourth summit meeting with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail S. Gorbachev May 29 to June 2.

The projected centerpiece of the trip is the signing of a treaty to reduce long-range nuclear weapons on both sides by 30% to 50%.

Asked if the treaty would be ready for signing then, Reagan said, "I have no way of answering that." But he said the two superpowers were seeking the cutback.

"There are a number of other subjects we continue to discuss with each other," he said.

Later, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze said that, while technical points are still in dispute, "we are becoming more convinced that (reaching an arms treaty by the summit) is do-able."

First Trip to Moscow

Reagan's trip will be his first to the Soviet Union.

The President built his political career on ardent anti-communism. Early in his presidency he denounced Moscow as "an evil empire" but has since helped work out a treaty to abolish U.S. and Soviet medium-range nuclear missiles.

Shevardnadze was at Reagan's side as the President made his announcement. The two then walked from the White House Rose Garden inside for a working lunch.

"We have set the date and now we shall take care of good substance, of good content, for the summit," Shevardnadze said.

Asked if the Red Army would withdraw from Afghanistan after an occupation of more than eight years, Shevardnadze simply waved and moved away from the microphones set up under sunny skies.

'Not an Easy Task'

Leaving after his lunch with the President, Shevardnadze was asked if it would be possible to reach an arms control agreement by the summit and replied, "It is possible. This is not an easy task. This is a very complicated task. But we are becoming convinced that it is do-able."

"There are many difficult questions of a technical nature, mostly in verification, but in principle this can be done," the foreign minister said.

On Afghanistan, Shevardnadze said, "Yes, we are withdrawing from Afghanistan. This is a firm decision. . . . There are just a very few questions remaining there, and I think they can be resolved."

When asked if there had to be an agreement in Geneva before the troops were withdrawn, he said, "This is very desirable. This will be the legal basis for that, so this is desirable."

Afghanistan was a principal topic at a meeting this morning between Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Shevardnadze.

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