The White House said today there is a possibility next month’s summit meeting between President Bush and Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev may be delayed because of the Persian Gulf crisis and problems in U.S.-Soviet arms talks.
A Soviet official said he expected the meetings to take place as scheduled and that from Moscow’s view, the only possible reason for a postponement would be delays in reaching a strategic arms agreement.
White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater, responding to reports that Bush might postpone the Feb. 11-13 meetings in Moscow, said, “There’s always a possibility that the trip could be delayed, but at this point we still intend to go.”
He said there are “a couple of concerns,” including “the situation in the Persian Gulf and what might be the status of events there at that time.”
Fitzwater said that one of the hitches on arms stems from discrepancies in the figures the Soviets gave for the recently concluded conventional arms treaty for reducing troops, tanks and other weaponry in Europe.
The summit was planned primarily for the two presidents to sign a START treaty reducing long-range nuclear weapons.
Gorbachev’s deputy spokesman, Sergei Grigoriev, said Soviet authorities had received no official word from Washington about possible plans to change the date of the meeting.
“The summit is supposed to take place to sign the treaty, and if the treaty is ready, we definitely want the summit to take place,” Grigoriev said. “We assume that the treaty will be ready.
“The only motivation for postponement that we will recognize is that the treaty would not be ready,” he said. “Any motivations, such (as events) around the world or inside the Soviet Union, will be insufficient to cancel the summit.”
Aside from developments in the gulf region, Fitzwater said Bush’s other concern is “the status of START negotiations.”