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Gorbachev Sees Medium-Range Agreement as Key to Others With AM-Arms Talks Bjt

March 3, 1987

MOSCOW (AP) _ Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev sees an agreement banning medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe as a key to getting rid of all nuclear weapons and solving other East-West problems, Pravda said Tuesday.

Gorbachev told Prime Minister Steingrimur Hermannsson of Iceland that a U.S.-Soviet agreement at Geneva on medium-range weapons would create greater trust, the official Communist Party newspaper reported.

″We would like the agreement on medium-range missiles to stimulate talks on strategic arms (long-range weapons) reduction . .. to prompt the opening of talks on conventional armaments and armed forces, to speed up progress in the elimination of chemical weapons,″ Gorbachev said.

In Washington, President Reagan said he welcomed Gorbachev’s proposal.

He said he would call the U.S. negotiators home for consultations at the end of this week and, ″following these dicussions in Washington I will send a team back to Geneva to take up once again the detailed negotiations.″

He said he had told the American team to begin presenting U.S. proposals on medium-range weapons Wednesday and added: ″I hope that the Soviet Union will then proceed with us to serious discussion of details which are essential to translate areas of agreement in principle to a concrete agreement.″

Hermannsson, host of the Reagan-Gorbachev summit in Reykjavik last October, met with the Soviet leader Monday and left Moscow on Tuesday.

He told a news conference Tuesday that Gorbachev assured him the Soviet Union would continue the policy of liberalization, under which political prisoners have been released, and that Soviet citizens soon would be given greater freedom to travel.

″I expressed my satisfaction with the fact that political prisoners are being given freedom and exchange of opinion is being encouraged,″ Hermannsson said. ″I understood ... that this process would definitely continue, that the decision had been taken after a very careful and thorough review of the situation; it was strongly supported by the people, by the party, and there would definitely be no turning back.″

″We also discussed freedom of travel and I understood ... there would not be long to wait for a greatly increased freedom in that respect,″ he said.

The prime minister said Gorbachev expressed the belief that a medium-range weapons agreement was vital to ending a deadlock in arms negotiations between the United States and Soviet Union.

″This was again and again emphasized, that the first step would have to be taken,″ Hermannsson said. ″It was my understanding that this was being offered and the limitations removed in order to allow the world to take the first step.″

In a speech Saturday, Gorbachev reversed the Soviet position that medium- range, strategic and space weapons must be covered by a comprehensive agreement.

He offered to eliminate the Soviet Union’s medium-range SS-20 missiles if the United States agrees to remove Pershing 2 and cruise missiles NATO has deployed in Western Europe.

After that, he said, Moscow would be willing to talk about removing shorter-range missiles from East Germany and Czechoslovakia.

Pravda said Gorbachev was trying to move toward his previously expressed goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons by the end of the century.

Gorbachev said an agreement on medium-range weapons ″would also improve psychologically the prospect of settling regional conflicts,″ Pravda reported.

His reference may have been to Afghanistan, where the Kremlin has an estimated 115,000 soldiers. Soviet forces intervened in December 1979 and stayed to fight Moslem guerrillas trying to overthrow the communist government.

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