Soviets rejecting US summit 'conditions'
A top Soviet official's rejection of US "conditions" for a superpower summit seems to have clouded prospects for an early upturn in Soviet-US relations -- but not completely.Skip to next paragraph
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There were evident potential pitfalls in Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev's suggestions for reviving Soviet-US detente from the moment he issued them Feb. 23.
The toughly worded remarks from the Soviets' senior foreign media spokesman at a briefing Feb. 25 served chiefly to confirm these problems.
Whether the obstacles can be skirted or overcome is still seen by diplomats here as depending largely on consultaions between the Reagan administration and its West European allies, and on just how serious Mr. Brezhnev is about opening a fresh dialogue with Washington.
Even the senior spokesman, Leonid Zamyatin, does not necessarily reflect the precise strategies of Mr. Brezhnev. Moreover, the latest superpower battle of words seemed at least partly artificial -- coming at a forum generally unheard of here, a free- wheeling press conference offered as a feature of the current party congress.
At first, Mr. Zamyatin reiterated President Brezhnev's contention that new talks with the US were crucially needed. But then he was asked about reports President Reagan wanted the issue of an alleged Soviet role in arming Salvadoran rebels "straightened out" before any summit.
The Soviet official retorted that Moscow neither was, is, nor would be arming the rebels. He termed the US charges to that effect "lies." He added: "It is not a correct approach . . . to impose conditions" for Soviet-US talks.
From the start Mr. Brezhnev's Feb. 23 proposals for a summit and strategic arms talks were coupled with a restatement of other policies Washington objects to.
He made it clear that Soviet troops, at least for now, were staying in Afghanistan; that they might yet march into Poland; that the USSR would still back third-world client regimes, political factions, and "liberation" for ces. The Salvadoran rebels count as a "liberation force."