Leaders Toast ‘New Start’ but Deadlock Still Unbroken : Follow-Up Summits in ’86, ’87
President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev, sealing their summit with a toast of champagne, said today that their meeting marked a “new start” toward improved relations. But they failed to break their deadlock on the main business of superpower arms control.
The two leaders, who spent more than six hours alone in private conversations, agreed to hold a second summit next June in Washington, and a third in Moscow in 1987.
Reagan stopped in Brussels to brief NATO allies and then flew on to Washington to address a joint session of Congress. His message: that the superpowers are “heading in the right direction” toward improved relations.
‘Straight in the Eye’
Gorbachev, summarizing the summit before briefing Warsaw Pact leaders in Prague, told reporters that he and Reagan looked at one another “straight in the eye” during a series of talks--but could not win an agreement to trade nuclear bomb cutbacks for an end to the American “Star Wars” program.
“All restraint will be blown to the winds” in nuclear competition unless the United States pulls back from its anti-missile defense efforts, the Soviet general secretary said.
Reagan and Gorbachev smiled often and shook hands frequently at the brief closing ceremony in Geneva. They pledged to accelerate the work of arms control negotiators, but could not even agree on guidelines for them.
They sat side by side on a large stage under two huge flags of the Soviet Union and the United States and concluded the first superpower summit in six years with a statement describing their talks as “frank and useful,” and acknowledging “serious differences remain on a number of critical issues.”
Cultural Exchange Signed
Each applauded the other’s remarks and then witnessed the signing of the new cultural exchange agreement that Reagan said paved the way for the people-to-people exchanges he hopes will lead to improved understanding.
But they did not disguise the differences that remain, and both sides made clear they are still far apart on a joint approach to Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, the so-called Star Wars anti-missile program.
“I am certain General Secretary Gorbachev will agree that real confidence in each other must be built on deeds and not words,” Reagan said in their joint appearance. “This is the criterion by which our meeting will be judged in future.
“The real report card from Geneva will not come in for months or even years but we know what must be done"--to seek disarmament and the resolution of conflicts, he said.
Gorbachev said at a press conference shortly after his joint appearance with Reagan that the Soviet demand that the Star Wars program be abolished had not changed.
“We realize the United States is unhappy with our reasoning, but we feel the same way,” he said.
Indicating his talks with Reagan at times did not go smoothly, Gorbachev said that at one point “the talks became very, very lively indeed.”
“I told the President: You are not talking to simple folk and if you stick by your position then I’ll have to do something about it,” Gorbachev said. He said his response “will be effective.”
The leaders pledged in their joint statement to “accelerate the work” at the Geneva arms control talks, which are scheduled to resume in Geneva in January.
Arms Cuts Endorsed
Calling for “early progress” in the talks, they endorsed “the principle of 50% reductions in the nuclear arms of the United States and the U.S.S.R.” and also for a separate interim agreement on intermediate nuclear weapons in Europe.
However, there was nothing new in the statement as both sides recently proposed 50% reductions and the Soviets had previously signaled their willingness to negotiate a separate agreement on European-based missiles.
A top U.S. official who briefed the press said “no secret agreements” were made during the summit.
Reagan, asked by reporters as he entered NATO headquarters in Brussels whether he thought the summit had been a success, replied, “I think it was.”
‘Made Great Progress
“Neither side got everything they wanted but I think we made great progress,” Reagan said.
On Star Wars, Reagan said: “We made it an open issue.”
Flying to Brussels on Air Force One, White House spokesman Larry Speakes was asked what Reagan thought about Gorbachev. Speakes said, “We think he (Reagan) liked him. They communicated well. They understood where the other stood.”
On the American side, U.S. officials were pleased they had obtained a joint statement that they considered substantive, that they had been able to initiate a dialogue they felt would be productive and that agreement had been reached to hold annual summits for at least the next two years.
The Soviets didn’t achieve their main goal going into the summit, which was to curb the Star Wars program, but the wording of the communique indicated that the subject was still a matter for negotiation in Geneva.
The Soviets also had wanted a joint public appearance between Reagan and Gorbachev which was reluctantly given by the American side.