Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze told President Reagan today that his government will make a new proposal to reduce nuclear weapons next week at the Geneva arms talks.
Shevardnadze handed Reagan a lengthy letter from Soviet leaderMikhail S. Gorbachev. “It is something that comes forward, it is different from what they have been saying,” Secretary of State George P. Shultz told reporters later.
“We hope it can lead to a process of genuine negotiations,” Shultz said. He refused to provide further details but said the proposal was welcomed by the United States.
Referring to Reagan’s scheduled summit session with Gorbachev Nov. 19-20 in Geneva, Shultz said, “We have an ongoing process here to make the meeting as productive as possible.”
Shultz characterized the Soviet proposal as a counterproposal to what U.S. negotiators put on the table earlier in the year to reduce missiles, bombers and submarines on both sides.
The principal U.S. goals are to achieve deep reductions in the Soviets’ arsenal of heavy land-based missiles and to eliminate the intermediate-range missiles targeted on Western Europe.
Shultz said Gorbachev’s letter was in Russian and had not been translated yet. But he said Shevardnadze had described it as “giving Mr. Gorbachev’s views” on arms control and other issues due to come up at the summit.
Shultz said the Soviets requested a two-day plenary session at the talks in Geneva next week to outline their new proposal. Reports attributed to Soviet sources have suggested it involves a 40% reduction in launchers and warheads linked to restraints on Reagan’s plan for a “Star Wars” anti-missile shield.
The President has refused to limit research, testing and development of the program. Shultz indicated that Reagan told Shevardnadze he would not give ground, adding that the President’s position in private was the same one he takes in public.
As they ended their more than three hours of talks, Reagan said he and the Soviet foreign minister had made progress and he was satisfied.
“There is always progress when you talk to each other,” Reagan said. “And we were talking to each other.”
Asked if he was satisified with their meeting in the Oval Office and over lunch in the State dining room, Reagan replied: “Yes.”
Shevardnadze slipped into his limousine without making any statement. Earlier, as he sat down with Reagan to pose for photographs, he brushed aside a question about a new Soviet proposal.
Soviet sources said Shevardnadze would have dinner with Shultz and that there was “a strong possibility” the two would meet again on Saturday. The Soviet foreign minister is due to fly to Moscow on Saturday night.