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First U.S.-Soviet Official Trade Meeting Since 1979

January 7, 1985

MOSCOW (AP) _ A high-level U.S. government delegation arrived in Moscow today for its first talks with Soviet officials on trade and economic matters since 1979.

Lionel Olmer, undersecretary of commerce, heads the American delegation to the U.S.-U.S.S.R. working group on trade and economic cooperation.

Embassy spokesman Jaroslav Verner said the group consists of representatives from the Departments of State, Commerce, Treasury and the U.S. special trade representative and was set up in 1974 under terms of a U.S.-Soviet economic cooperation agreement.

Verner said the Moscow meetings, to last two days, are the first since 1979, when exchanges were suspended following the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and continued after the martial law crackdown by Soviet-backed Communist regime in Poland.

Verner said he did not immediately know with whom the U.S. delegates would meet, nor what specific items were on the agenda.

Olmer, undersecretary for international trade, said in Washington recently that the administration was taking steps to ease controls of shipments of personal computers to the Soviet Union while tightening restrictions on more sophisticated computer equipment.

The rules change was worked out with the 15-nation Coordinating Committee on Strategic Exports, which consists of NATO members and Japan.

U.S. businesses have complained that they are penalized with embargoes while the Soviet Union has been increasing trade with Western Europe.

In 1983, Soviet trade with Western Europe and Japan was put at $40 billion, compared to $2 billion sold by American firms to the Soviets that year, according to the U.S.-U.S.S.R. Trade and Economic Council, a business group.

In 1984, the United States sold about $2.5 billion worth of goods to the Soviet Union and imported slightly under $400 million, according to U.S. Department of Commerce estimated figures.

The department had estimated in 1979, before the embargoes imposed after the Afghanistan intervention, that U.S. sales to the Soviet Union would reach $4.8 billion in 1980.

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