Warsaw Pact holds summit meeting
SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) _ Leaders of the seven-nation Warsaw Pact arrived in Sofia Monday for a summit conference and are expected to endorse Soviet chief Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s latest disarmament proposals.
The meeting begins Tuesday and Gorbachev is expected to advise the other leaders of his plans for his first meeting with President Reagan, scheduled for Nov. 19-20 in Geneva, Switzerland.
The state-run BTA news agency reported all of the arriving delegations were welcomed by Bulgarian President Todor Zhivkov and senior members of the Communist Party and government.
It was expected that the summit, known officially as the Warsaw Pact’s Political Consultative Committee, would issue a declaration of support for the Soviet proposal of 50 percent reductions in the intercontinental nuclear arsenal of each superpower.
The United States has been cool to the idea, saying it would leave the Soviet Union with an advantage in such weapons.
Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Lomeiko, in a television interview here, said nuclear arms reductions, a ban on space weapons and a general renewal of detente would be the main topics.
″These central issues, which we may say weigh heavily on mankind, have to be resolved, and the Political Consultative Committee, which stands for the wisdom and experience of all socialist countries, will doubtlessly greatly contribute to the elaboration of the ways to the resolution of these issues,″ he said, according to the BTA’s paraphrase in English.
No schedule for the summit was released, and it was not known how long it would last.
A fenced-off government compound at Dobiana, on the southern edge of Sofia, was decorated with flags of the Warsaw Pact countries: The Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Romania.
A similar meeting of the Western powers will be held Thursday in New York with President Reagan to advise the leaders of West Germany, Britain, Japan, Canada and Italy of his plans for the November meeting with Gorbachev. Reagan and the others will be in New York for closing ceremonies of the United Nations 40th anniversary celebration. French President Francois Mitterrand was invited to attend, but declined.
The Warsaw Pact summit originally was scheduled for January but was called off, apparently because Gorbachev’s predecessor, Konstantin Chernenko, was in ill health. Chernenko died March 10 and Gorbachev was quickly named to succeed him.
The last regular session of the Political Consultative Committee, the bloc’s top policy-making body, was in Prague, Czechoslovia, in 1983.
That ended with a statement calling on the West to join in curbing nuclear arms, chemical and conventional weapons and pledging non-aggression.
The United States responded that it was interested in all those offers, but said they were either already covered by existing agreements or were lacking in concrete ideas to make them work.
Warsaw Pact leaders, including Communist Party chiefs and heads of government, met April 26 in Warsaw, Poland, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the alliance and extend its life for another 20 years.
The Soviet delegation to the Sofia summit includes party leader Gorbachev, President Andrei A. Gromyko, Premier Nikolai a. Ryzghkov, Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze, Defense Minister Sergei L. Sokolov, party secretary Konstantin V. Rusakov and Foreign Trade Minister Boris I. Aristov.
BTA said Soviet Marshal Viktor Kulikov, commander-in-chief of the Warsaw Pact armed forces, also had arrived in Sofia.