The latest round of U.S.-Soviet talks on a new long-term grain agreement ended abruptly in London today without an accord, but the American side said it will keep trying for a new five-year pact.
The previous agreement expired Sept. 30 and just before Thursday’s opening meeting the Soviet side proposed a new one-year agreement. But the United States, anxious to offer farmers a guarantee of long-term sales, held out for a five-year pact.
The Reagan Administration had hoped to wrap up such a deal in time to give a boost to Republican presidential candidate George Bush before the Nov. 8 election.
The talks have dragged on for seven months, with sessions in Washington, London and twice in Vienna before this latest round between the world’s biggest importer and exporter of grain.
Pact ‘Still Possible’
In a short statement to reporters after the one-hour meeting today, chief U.S. delegate Alan Holmer said each side has presented new proposals and will now report back to their respective governments.
“The United States continues to seek a new, five-year, long-term arrangement which provides stability in grain trade between both countries,” he said.
“You always like to be able to reach an agreement any time you are in a negotiation. We weren’t able to do that today. But I think it is still possible to reach an agreement with the Soviets,” Holmer added.
He declined comment on why the talks ended so abruptly.
But an official involved in the talks, who asked not be identified, said the key issue was that the Soviets attached “conditions” on any pledge to purchase a minimum quantity of U.S. grain beyond a period of one year.
Soviets Seek Flexibility
Chief Soviet negotiator Yuri Chumakov said both sides had made new proposals but he added that they seemed to be unacceptable, “so we have decided to report back to our governments.”
Future action will depend on what is decided in Moscow and Washington, Chumakov said. Like Holmer, he declined to say why this round ended this morning after only an hour.
It is believed that Soviet negotiators want more flexibility in case reforms by Kremlin leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev begin to result in much bigger Soviet harvests.