3rd Round of Geneva Talks Adjourned; No Hopeful Summit Signs
The third round of nuclear arms control talks between the United States and the Soviet Union adjourned Thursday with no sign of any progress that might improve the outlook for the summit meeting between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev.
In a brief statement after a final 1-hour, 40-minute meeting with the Soviet delegation, U.S. Ambassador Max M. Kampelman said that “it has been a productive round, although we would have preferred to be further along toward agreement.” He carefully avoided the word progress.
The third round of talks, which got under way in mid-September, was extended by a week to allow detailed discussion of President Reagan’s latest arms control proposal. Kampelman and the U.S. negotiating team have spent 11 hours in discussions and explanations of the plan, which matches the Soviet offer of a 50% cut in total strategic nuclear warheads on each side, although there are important differences in how the cuts would apply to various categories of weapons.
Rules of Confidentiality
Kampelman refused to answer questions under the rules of confidentiality adopted at the outset of the talks. Soviet delegation leader Viktor P. Karpov did not make a statement.
“We were pleased that during this round, the Soviet delegation presented its counterproposal to the proposals the United States submitted in March at the opening of these delegations,” Kampelman’s statement said.
“We studied the Soviet proposals carefully, found some obviously one-sided and unacceptable aspects to them, but also some ‘seeds to nurture,’ which could move the negotiations forward,” he added.
Kampelman called the American proposal “serious, balanced, comprehensive and important” and said he hoped it will be studied by the Soviets “with the utmost seriousness.”
Kampelman said he and fellow U.S. negotiators John Tower and Maynard W. Glitman will return to Washington before the weekend to report to President Reagan and Secretary of State George P. Shultz.
Since both sides have now proposed cuts of the same overall size, the U.S. delegation had hoped that the 50% figure could be the basis for an “interim agreement” or joint summit communique by Gorbachev and Reagan that would push things forward at the negotiating table here.
But on Wednesday, the State Department’s chief arms control adviser, Paul H. Nitze, arrived from Moscow with the chilling word that Soviet leaders profess not even to have yet read the outline of the new American proposal and continue to insist on their own package as the only basis for agreement.
At Moscow Talks
Nitze was in Moscow with Shultz and others for talks with Gorbachev and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze.
The U.S. representatives found no flexibility at all on the Soviet side, and even some movement backwards in the absolute insistence by the Soviets that the United States must completely abandon even the research phase of the President’s Strategic Defense Initiative, the “Star Wars” space-based defense system, as the price for any cuts in offensive warheads.
It appears now that the Nov. 19-20 summit here will be little more than a discussion by the two leaders of arms control negotiations and other issues.
There was some surprise in the American delegation here at the assertions by Shevardnadze and Gorbachev that they had not been briefed on the new U.S. proposal, which was outlined by Reagan in a personal letter to Gorbachev more than a week ago.
Also, immediately after the proposals were formally put forth in Geneva last Friday, the Soviets recalled their Geneva negotiator on space weapons and defensive systems, Yuli A. Kvitzinsky, to Moscow for consultations on the American outline. If Gorbachev was not briefed, diplomats here say, it was not because he could not have been briefed.
When the American proposal was presented last week, a member of the U.S. delegation remarked that “we will know pretty soon whether the Soviets want to negotiate or not.” The immediate response has been bleakly negative.
The talks will resume in Geneva on Jan. 16 after a two-month break.