MOSCOW — Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev told the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff today that his visit is evidence that the superpowers are viewing each other more as partners than as adversaries.
For his part, Adm. William J. Crowe said, "There is change afoot in this country, politically and militarily," adding that he found Gorbachev "very impressive."
Gorbachev met with Crowe in a Kremlin office on the last day of a 10-day visit in which the admiral viewed military exercises in Byelorussia, looked at a Soviet nuclear submarine and traveled widely in the Soviet Union.
"The very fact that you have visited the Soviet Union and have visited military facilities and units demonstrates that we are moving from the notion of enemies to the notion of partners," Gorbachev told Crowe in the presence of a handful of reporters.
"I believe that in the plans made by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, we are still considered to be adversaries, but the process is going along new lines, and this is extremely significant," the Soviet leader said.
Crowe, accompanied by U.S. Ambassador Jack Matlock, then met with Gorbachev, his military adviser Marshal Sergei F. Akhromeyev and military Chief of Staff Mikhail A. Moiseyev for about an hour.
"Obviously there still are differences in our points of view," especially on arms control, Crowe said at a news conference later. But, he added, "the atmosphere for discussing them has improved markedly.
"I believe we now have an environment in which we can talk candidly, ask the kinds of questions that are important; we can talk without rancor or emotion," he said.
Crowe said Gorbachev's plan to withdraw 500 tactical nuclear weapons from Eastern Europe and President Bush's proposals on reducing conventional forces make him optimistic about superpower arms talks.
"We now believe there are some positive offers, some constructive offers on the table, that both sides are serious and sincere and that we can now continue the process of negotiations and some optimism," Crowe said.
Crowe's visit followed a trip by Akhromeyev to the United States.
The visit came as the United States and Soviet Union resumed talks in Geneva on reducing their arsenals of strategic nuclear missiles, negotiations that were stalled by disagreements and the change of U.S. administration.
The two sides also are engaged in negotiations on short-range nuclear weapons, chemical weapons and conventional forces in Europe.
Crowe spent much of his visit assessing changes in Soviet military policy under Gorbachev.