Reagan, Allies Discuss NATO’s Gains, Costs
President Reagan, in what Secretary of State George P. Shultz called a “very full and worthwhile” series of meetings with NATO partners and other allies, focused Tuesday on solidifying the alliance and reviewing its accomplishments.
Shultz said Reagan met separately with officials of Pakistan and India and that they expressed a desire for improved relations.
Other Administration officials said that Reagan, following up on his Middle East discussions here a day earlier, also used the meetings with officials of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries to discuss “burden sharing,” a touchy issue involving financial and troop commitments.
At a news briefing, Shultz said that Tuesday’s 75-minute meeting included the foreign ministers of the 12 NATO countries as well as officials representing South Korea, Japan and Australia. It was the first time this group had gotten together, he added.
Shultz said he was “struck by the extraordinary reaction” of the allies to Reagan’s address Monday at the U.N. General Assembly. Their warmth, he said, indicated a broad recognition of “the importance of strength, the increasing recognition that we must be open--open politically and open economically.”
“So it’s been a good two days,” Shultz concluded.
Nevertheless, no progress was reported on two thorny issues: the Arab-Israeli conflict and the situation of nine U.S. hostages in Lebanon whose fate is thought to be controlled, at least in part, by Iran.
Asked if the United States would follow Britain in arranging discussions with Iranian officials, Shultz said, “There’s no plan . . . nothing that I know of that would bring such a meeting about.”
Shultz noted that the United States still has “certain problems” with Iran, which include terrorism, the American hostages and the Iran-Iraq War. He said the U.S. government communicates with Iran through intermediaries but added, “We’re certainly prepared for direct talks if the setting is right.”
Reagan also met with the foreign ministers of Pakistan and India, neighbors with a contentious history that has raised fears that one or the other might resort to the use of nuclear weapons.
Shultz, who described the meetings as “very profitable,” said it was interesting to hear Indian and Pakistani officials “express the desire for better relations between those two countries, which, of course, we would--and everybody else would--welcome.”
On the subject of burden-sharing, Rozanne L. Ridgway, assistant secretary of state, said that the allies “always expand the definition” beyond NATO to include aid to developing countries.
Asked if U.S. officials accepted this as a definition of fair sharing, she said, “We believe that we have to keep this under examination, that more can be done.”
Administration officials said Reagan and the allies did not discuss his proposal for an international conference to tighten a ban on the use of chemical warfare, or his assertion that a new Soviet-U.S. nuclear agreement within a year was “more than a possibility.” Reagan had mentioned both in his speech Monday.
Ridgway said there was more emphasis on “perhaps the last opportunity for the President to meet with this gathering.” She said the occasion was used to discuss “allied unity and the tasks ahead.”
Times staff writer Don Shannon also contributed to this story.