Socialists Urge Summit but Gorbachev Remains Silent

Times Staff Writer

Officials of the Socialist International's Disarmament Consultative Committee on Friday urged new Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev to meet with President Reagan, but Gorbachev kept silent on his intentions.

Finnish Prime Minister Kalevi Sorsa disclosed the Socialist group's advocacy of a superpower summit conference after a meeting with Gorbachev.

"We did not get an answer on that," Sorsa told a news conference after two days of discussions with Communist Party leaders.

Gorbachev told the group, composed of leaders of Socialist and Social Democratic parties, that Reagan's invitation for a meeting in the United States would receive a courteous answer, Sorsa said.

'Positive' Attitude

Meanwhile, a senior Western diplomat said that Soviet officials have been "positive" about the prospect of summit talks despite the absence so far of a reply to Reagan from the Kremlin's new chief. He indicated that Gorbachev, in office less than two weeks, simply may not yet be ready to answer the invitation, which was hand-delivered last week by Vice President George Bush.

"They indicated a desire for political-level contact," the diplomat said. "No timing--that remains to be worked out. It's normal that someone coming into office would not want to make the decision (on a summit conference) in a couple of days."

But U.S. and Soviet officials have discussed the possible nature of a Reagan-Gorbachev meeting even without Soviet agreement to such a session, the diplomat said.

"There's a positive reaction on both sides to an eventual encounter," he added, speaking only on condition that his name and nationality not be disclosed.

"It appears to me that there's a growing consensus that it should be somewhere between a get-acquainted meeting and a full, negotiating session," he said.

"It will be a major, substantive exchange when it occurs, with people who have firm views on both sides."

Austrian Meeting

Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei A. Gromyko may discuss summit possibilities when they are both in Vienna on May 15 for celebrations of the 30th anniversary of the signing of a peace treaty between Austria and the victorious World War II Allies, the diplomat said.

When Gorbachev received the written summit invitation from Bush on March 13, he said it would be studied carefully and a reply would be made, the diplomat said.

Since then, he added, "all signs are positive" from the Soviet officials in their meetings with American diplomats.

In an unrelated move, the U.S. government quietly lifted its seven-month-old warning to Americans to avoid travel in Leningrad that was issued after a series of incidents in the second-largest city in the Soviet Union.

The "travel advisory" was rescinded on March 6, four days before the death of Konstantin U. Chernenko and the elevation the next day of Gorbachev to lead the Communist Party.

"The situation is much better and the pattern of systematic, regular harassment has stopped," a spokesman for the U.S. Consulate General in Leningrad said.

The travel warning was issued last August after three suspicious beatings of Americans in a four-month period plus the detention of other Americans who were not allowed to contact U.S. officials.

Meanwhile, a U.S. Embassy source disclosed that an American Marine assigned to guard duty at the embassy was beaten, but not seriously hurt, at his Moscow hotel earlier this month, the Associated Press reported.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World