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Gorbachev Scolds West For “Testing Our Patience″

June 23, 1987

MOSCOW (AP) _ Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev used the opening session of an international women’s forum today to scold Western officials for ″testing our patience″ in arms control negotiations.

Speaking in the Kremlin to some 2,300 delegates at the World Women’s Congress, Gorbachev reiterated Soviet positions on a variety of weapons issues, including the removal of medium- and shorter-range missiles from Europe.

The Soviet Union, he said, ″will continue taking effective steps to find solutions along the road to disarmament. But it is important that our partners in the West do something as well, not only keep inventing ever new demands to us and testing our patience.″

The party leader’s remarks were reported by the official Tass news agency.

Gorbachev charged that U.S. allies are attempting to block an unwritten agreement between Washington and Moscow to remove medium-and shorter-range missiles from Europe, by making demands ″at variance with the principle of equal security.″

The United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies have supported West Germany’s position that any final agreement on eliminating missiles from Europe should exempt 72 Pershing 1A missiles on German territory. The missiles belong to West Germany but are armed with American warheads.

Delegates from 154 countries are attending the five-day women’s congress, organized by the Women’s International Democratic Federation. Although the congress agenda includes discussions of women’s issues, it also features sessions on nuclear disarmament.

Gorbachev told the women they play an important peacemaking role because of their ″ability to calm down hot heads and enoble bitter hearts.″

He said women in the Soviet Union share equal rights with men, including equal pay, equal education and career opportunities and an equal chance to participate in government and Communist Party activities.

However, in the country’s two most important political bodies - the Politburo and the Secretariat of the Communist Party - there is only one woman, Aleksandra P. Biryukova, who serves in the secretariat.

Women dominate Soviet public health, education and culture, Gorbachev said. He added that as mothers and wives, Soviet women are burdened by the country’s shortcomings in consumer services and retail trade.

Gorbachev’s largely upbeat assessment of Soviet women contrasted with a January speech by Valentina Tereshkova, then the head of the Soviet women’s council. She also was the first woman in space, orbiting the Earth in 1963.

Tereshkova said that in two large Soviet industries, metal working and machine tools, 70 percent of the women employees were in the lowest-rated jobs and only 1.3 percent held top positions. In some agricultural areas, nearly all the manual laborers are women, she said.

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