Talks between President Reagan and outgoing Soviet Ambassador Anatoly F. Dobrynin on Tuesday could set in motion preparations for a U.S.-Soviet summit this year, a senior Administration official said today.
He told reporters Dobrynin, due at the White House to say farewell after 25 years in Washington, has been empowered by the Kremlin to discuss a summit preparatory meeting between Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze and Secretary of State George P. Shultz.
"We can confirm that Shevardnadze did indicate to (U.S. Ambassador Arthur) Hartman in Moscow that Dobrynin had been empowered to discuss a meeting between Shevardnadze and Shultz in the United States," the official said.
"It is likely any such meeting would discuss a summit."
On the same day Dobrynin sees Reagan, the United States is reportedly scheduled to hold its second underground nuclear test of the year in Nevada. The test may cause Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev to end a unilateral Soviet testing moratorium.
Reagan and Gorbachev agreed at their first meeting in Geneva last November to meet again in the United States this year and in Moscow in 1987.
Reagan suggested June or July but Gorbachev has been reluctant to set a date, raising some speculation on whether a summit might be possible this year.
The Administration has said that the only possible date after July would be in December due to campaigning for November's congressional elections.
"As of today, we are still in the same position. We have no dates for the meeting. June or July is still our preference," the official said.
White House spokesman Edward Djerejian today declined to confirm or deny published reports that the Nevada nuclear test would be carried out on Tuesday.
"We don't announce the tests in advance. We are proceeding with our testing program, which is set out on an annual basis. I don't see the linkage," he said.
The United States set off a nuclear explosion--its second after the Soviet freeze began last August--as Shevardnadze was visiting the White House last Sept. 27 to help prepare for the November summit. The blast had no perceptible effect on the Geneva meeting.