State Dept. Report Angers Soviet Leader : Shultz-Gorbachev Talks Turn Heated
Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev and Secretary of State George P. Shultz engaged in a sometimes acrimonious debate Friday over a little noticed State Department report criticizing Soviet intelligence practices, Shultz later told reporters.
The report, by the department’s Intelligence and Research Bureau, “apparently bothered him a great deal,” Shultz said.
“I haven’t read the report myself, but he had it and it was all marked up,” Shultz said. “He seemed to resent the fact that there were critical comments in it.
“There was sort of an attitude of, ‘How could anybody be critical of the Soviet Union?’ ” Shultz said.
“I said, ‘It’s really very easy. After all, you invaded Afghanistan, you shot down that Korean airliner, and then Mr. Gromyko went to Madrid and said that they would do it again . . . and then you have been spreading all this bum dope about AIDS.
“So you can see that it’s possible to be upset.”’
Shultz was referring to the 1983 downing of a Korean Air Lines Boeing 747 that strayed over Soviet airspace in the Far East. Two hundred sixty-nine lives were lost but then-Foreign Minister Andrei A. Gromyko, who is now the Soviet president, refused to apologize for the Soviet actions. The Reagan Administration also has accused Soviet intelligence services of orchestrating a wave of rumors that America is spreading the AIDS--acquired immune deficiency syndrome--virus to damage Third World countries.
The confrontation was a sharp contrast to the cheerful banter between Shultz and Gorbachev prior to their 4 1/2-hour meeting in the Kremlin. Nevertheless, Shultz said he remains impressed with Gorbachev despite their disagreements.
“Even when we were discussing things where we were being critical of each other, the general spirit was good,” Shultz said. “He is a very impressive man.”
Before getting down to serious business at the Kremlin meeting, the two men traded small talk about their summer vacations.
At one point, Gorbachev light-heartedly complained that Western journalists were “trying to bury” him by reporting on rumors that sprang up during his long absence from Moscow in the late summer. The rumors suggested that Gorbachev was suffering from a serious case of food poisoning, either an accident or an assassination attempt.
Shultz said he and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze made a deal to reserve August for their own vacations and agreed to keep things quiet during that month. “And you extended that into September,” Shultz teased Gorbachev, who returned to the Kremlin on Sept. 24 from a month’s vacation.
The good-natured exchange took place through interpreters in St. Catherine’s Hall, an ornately decorated ceremonial room in the Great Kremlin Palace often used for top-level meetings.
Gorbachev and Shultz entered at precisely the same moment from opposite ends of the large hall but that was just about the only orchestrated event as they posed for Soviet and American photographers. A number of correspondents also were allowed to witness the start of the meeting.
“I am glad to see you,” said Shultz, the first to speak.
“Just the fact that you are here says something,” said Gorbachev, apparently referring to Shultz’s arrival by special train from Helsinki, Finland, when flights into Moscow were grounded by thick fog this week.
“We have done some good work, but we are not satisfied,” Shultz told Gorbachev. Then, his fist punching the air for emphasis, he added, “but we’ll get there.”
Expects to Visit
Asked by an American reporter if he planned to come to the United States soon, Gorbachev replied, “I think it will happen.”
Later, questioned by another American reporter, he said he would like to see all of the United States, not just Washington.
“I would like to see the whole country,” he said, “but whether I am able to see it is a different question. Philosophically, there are two categories: What is possible, and what is realistic.”
President Reagan apparently thinks it’s possible for Gorbachev to see at least part of the United States, including the Reagan ranch near Santa Barbara.
“I thought it would be kind of nice to invite him up to a 1,500-foot adobe shack that was built in 1872, and let his see how a capitalist spends his holidays,” Reagan joked at his press conference in Washington on Thursday.
But plans for Gorbachev’s U.S. visit seem to be on hold as a result of a dispute over the Administration’s “Star Wars” space defense system.
As they sat down at opposite sides of a long, white table, Shultz told the Kremlin chief, “You look very well.”
“I had a vacation,” Gorbachev replied.
“So I heard,” Shultz said. “It’s a good thing to do once in a while. I had a good vacation--it lasted about three weeks.”
Discussing the heavy work schedule for the Soviet-American talks, Gorbachev told Shultz, “I understand that you’re working three shifts.”
Shultz said the two sides had stopped holding formal meetings of large groups and were gathering as the situation demanded.
“We have gradually developed a pattern: We do what works,” he said.
“Aren’t you a member of a trade union?” Gorbachev asked with a smile.