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U.S. Ambassador Says A Successor Has Been Chosen, Won’t Reveal Name

December 19, 1986

MOSCOW (AP) _ U.S. Ambassador Arthur Hartman, who will leave his post after five years, said today a successor has been chosen, but that he could not name the person.

Hartman, a 60-year-old career diplomat who sized up four Soviet leaders and helped prepare two superpower summits, also said he didn’t consider his tour a success. He did not elaborate, but apparently was referring to the poor state of U.S.-Soviet relations.

The State Department announced Thursday that Hartman was giving up the post early next year for unexplained personal reasons.

Hartman told reporters today the administration had a choice of leaving him in the post for the remaining two years of President Reagan’s term or appointing a successor quickly so the new envoy would have enough time to make a mark in Moscow.

″I left the decision pretty much in the hands of the president and the secretary (of state) to make, and they made the decision that they did wish to put someone in here for a full two years and I will be leaving, therefore, early in the new year,″ Hartman said.

A U.S. diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity said it was not Hartman’s decision to leave.

Hartman said during a news conference at his official residence that a successor has been named, but that he could not disclose who it is.

U.S. diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed that Jack Matlock, a senior Soviet analyst on the National Security Council staff, is most often mentioned as a possible successor.

Matlock, whose hard-line views shocked the Soviet audience at a superpower conference in Soviet Latvia in September, is a Soviet scholar and speaks Russian fluently.

Hartman said he has not made plans for the future, but would return to Washington to consider options in the public and private sectors.

He became the U.S. ambassador in Moscow since October 1981 and served the longest term of any U.S. envoy there since World War II.

Asked what advice he would give his successor about dealing with the Soviets, he said: ″I certainly could not say I’ve been a great success here.″

He said the U.S.-Soviet relationship has been influenced by three changes in the Kremlin leadership during his tenure and by Reagan’s election mandate to build up the U.S. armed forces.

Hartman spoke at length about the U.S.-Soviet relationship which he described as ″basically conflictual″ because of the vast differences in the principles on which each society is based.

He praised efforts by Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev to restructure the Soviet economy. ″I think it is fascinating to watch the changes that are taking place,″ Hartman said.

He also lauded Soviet proposals made during the Iceland superpower summit.

″My own feeling is that post-Reykjavik we have the makings of a serious arms control agreement,″ Hartman said. ″Some of the credit for that I give to the general secretary (Gorbachev). The proposals he brought broke through some of the barriers.″

Reagan and Gorbachev failed to reach an agreement because of differences on what research could be conducted on Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, or ″Star Wars.″

Hartman said Soviet officials have since hinted they may be willing to permit a broader definition of what constitutes laboratory research than was understood at the summit.

The two nations’ views on nuclear testing also are growing closer, Hartman said. He said Soviets previously insisted on nothing short of a full halt to all nuclear explosions, but they have recently offered to negotiate a step-by- step reduction toward an eventual ban.

The ambassador also said today’s announcement that dissident Andrei Sakharov and his wife, Yelena Bonner, would be released from internal exile is ″a wonderful development and one which we applaud.″

He noted, however, that many cases of divided spouses and other humanitarian issues remain unresolved.

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