President Bush and President Mikhail S. Gorbachev put off plans to sign a summit framework on long-range nuclear weapons today after unexplained snags developed at the last minute.
White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said the two presidents had directed Secretary of State James A. Baker III and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze to meet later in the day in an effort to resolve the differences.
"We have also tomorrow," Gorbachev said upon leaving his noon-hour summit meeting with Bush. Bush embraced the arms agreement that remains to be signed late today--an important accord banning production of chemical weapons.
Fitzwater said the two presidents will go ahead with plans to sign a treaty banning production of chemical weapons.
There was no word on the snag in the framework for a treaty to cut bombers and missiles by at least 30% to 35%. Soviet spokesman Arkady Maslennikov said there is "very little doubt" that it will be initialed as planned later in the summit.
The delay wasn't the only issue in doubt today. A grain sale of benefit to American farmers was up in the air, perhaps a pawn in the tussle involving overall trade issues.
Bush welcomed Gorbachev at the White House shortly before noon for a second day of talks. The two men met for more than 90 minutes, and Bush said the chemical weapons treaty--with a signing scheduled for late in the day--represented a "major, major accomplishment."
Gorbachev told reporters that the two men have made "a lot of progress" toward a framework on a treaty to slash long-range nuclear weapons--the second of two documents awaiting their signatures.
"I think we can already say this meeting is getting to be an important one," Gorbachev told reporters. "But it can become more productive. . . . Whether it is just important or very important, that will be decided tomorrow," he said, referring to a planned day of talks at Camp David, Md.