Leaders of the big seven economies today extended a material salute to the democratic reforms sweeping Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, pledging "to help in practical ways those countries that choose freedom."
The leaders could not agree on a coordinated relief effort for Moscow, deadlocking on direct cash aid. The United States led the opposition, but Secretary of State James A. Baker III said the leaders still must resolve the "scope and degree and extent of aid" to the Soviet Union.
He said "all the countries around the table" wanted the economic reconstruction called perestroika to succeed. "I think everybody will support technical assistance to the Soviet Union," Baker said.
West Germany, France and Italy want to go ahead with direct financial aid.
Halfway through their three-day summit, Baker said President Bush and his six partners still had not resolved disputes on worldwide farm subsidies and environmental problems.
The summit nations loosened slightly their restrictions on aid to China, and Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu informed his colleagues that Japan was now prepared to resume a $5.2-billion loan package.
Western sanctions were imposed after Beijing's 1989 anti-democracy crackdown and the summit took note of recent, positive developments. The leaders invited the World Bank to consider loans that would advance Chinese economic reform and environmental progress. "Closer cooperation" would depend on advances in human rights.
The joint political statement made it clear that the leaders were leaving the door open for Western nations to assist Moscow in whatever form they choose and Baker said the leaders would likely agree that "technical assistance is warranted even under circumstances that exist today."
Bush reiterated at this morning's session that direct aid should await substantial Soviet economic reform, West German spokesman Hans Klein said. Nonetheless, the leaders all agreed on a "positive response" to Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev's general appeal for assistance, the official said.