Soviet, U.S. Officials Begin Talks on Preparing for Superpower Summit
MOSCOW (AP) _ Top U.S. arms control experts and a high-ranking Kremlin delegation today began special talks aimed at preparing for a new superpower summit, a Soviet official said, but both sides maintained official silence.
The Soviet official, who spoke on condition he not identified, said the talks had begun as scheduled, but provided no further details. The U.S. Embassy declined all comment.
A crew from ABC News spotted Viktor Karpov, the head of the Soviet delegation and chief of the Kremlin’s new disarmament desk, heading from the Foreign Ministry to the talks, apparently being held in a government guest house in the Lenin Hills on the edge of central Moscow.
Plans for the talks had been announced by the Soviet press. But the Communist Party daily Pravda, the only national newspaper that publishes on Monday morning, made no mention of the arrival of the U.S. delegation headed by Paul Nitze, chief arms control adviser to President Reagan.
In a departure from protocol that suggested the Kremlin was trying to play down the significance of the meeting, no Soviet delegation was sent to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport Sunday evening to meet the seven arriving American officials.
The talks, which are scheduled to run through Tuesday, are part of the preparations for a meeting between Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze.
Scheduled for Washington on Sept. 19-20, that meeting is intended to set an agenda for the next summit between Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev.
On Sunday, Soviet commentator Alexander Bovin, of the government newspaper Izvestia, called the visiting Americans ″a solid team .... powerful men in U.S. arms policy.″
But Bovin, speaking on the national television commentary program ″Studio 9,″ said Reagan’s recent letter on weapons control to Gorbachev apparently does not raise hopes that a U.S.-Soviet summit can be scheduled.
″This is still an open question,″ he said. ″Neither Washington nor Moscow can say if there will be a summit.″
No date has been set for the summit, which Reagan and Gorbachev agreed to hold in the United States this year after their first meeting in Geneva Nov. 19-21.
The Soviets have said they want progress toward an arms control agreement before the summit is scheduled.
Bovin quoted Western press reports as saying Reagan’s letter, which was delivered late last month, proposes a 5-to-7-year moratorium on deploying a space-based missile defense system, popularly known as Star Wars.
The Soviet commentator said that does not go far enough toward the Kremlin’s call for a 15-to-20-year ban on such weapons.
Bovin, however, stressed he was not expressing official reaction to Reagan’s letter, and noted the efforts to arrange a second superpower summit, including the visit by Nitze and the other Americans.
The U.S. officials refused to reply Sunday when asked whether their trip, made during the summer recess in the Geneva arms control talks, signals progress toward a disarmament agreement.
The Geneva negotiations on nuclear and space weapons are in recess until September, so the meetings may indicate some behind-the-scenes efforts have brought success or that both sides are making an extra effort to come to terms before the meeting between Shultz and Shevardnadze.
Although there has been no official Kremlin response to Reagan’s letter, the Soviet press has complained that portions were leaked to Washington reporters.
Valentin Zorin, a senior television commentator who appeared on the same program as Bovin, called the leaks ″an obvious and crude violation of the confidentiality″ of communications between world leaders.
Besides Nitze, the U.S. delegation includes Richard Perle, the assistant secretary of defense; chief Geneva negotiator Max Kampelman; Pentagon arms expert Col. Robert Linhard, who is also special assistant to the president for national security affairs; arms control adviser Edward Rowny; and Geneva negotiators Maynard Glitman and Ronald Lehman.
Lehman also is a special assistant to the president for national security affairs.
The Foreign Ministry has identified the Soviet participants as Karpov, who is also head of the Soviet delegation to the Geneva space and nuclear weapons talks; Alexei Obukhov, who oversees medium-range arms negotiations in Geneva; Col. Gen. Nikolai Chervov, head of a Defense Ministry department; and Nikolai Ditinov, a military weapons expert.