'83 diplomatic agenda: Can one man do it all?
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More recently, Shultz was seen having lunch in the State Department cafeteria. Lower-ranking employees, not used to rubbing shoulders with a secretary of state, saw this as one more small sign that Shultz identifies with them. And it was not the first time that Shultz had visited the cafeteria.Skip to next paragraph
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Although the seemingly unhurried secretary of state does not act like a man who carries a tremendous burden of responsibility, that burden is heavy indeed. One need only take a look at the two new top priority problem areas which he faces as he begins this new year:
* US-Soviet relations inevitably find their way to the very top of the list of top priorities of any secretary of state. Shultz is being criticized by some officials for not moving more rapidly to give new direction to US arms-control negotiations. There is a feeling that the US is losing the propaganda battle over the planned deployment of new American nuclear missiles in Western Europe. A flurry of statements and seemingly new arms-control proposals emanating from the new Soviet leader, Yuri Andropov, have grabbed recent headlines.
But beyond the realm of propaganda,some officials are said to believe that unless the US shows a greater willingness to be flexible about President Reagan's ''zero-option'' proposal for cuts in medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe, the NATO alliance consensus on the need to deploy new missiles could collapse. Paul Nitze, the chief US negotiator to the Geneva talks on this subject, is said to favor greater flexibility.
Arms-control is not a field in which Shultz has had great experience, and he is taking his time asserting himself. But officials point out that Eugene V. Rostow, the head of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency has been weakened both by illness and by opposition in Congress to some of his staff appointments. National security adviser William P. Clark, a novice in the field, does not seem to be playing a strong coordinating role.
The Defense and State Departments are divided on the issue of flexibility, and Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger's comments on the subject of nuclear warfare have tended to frighten Europeans. It is a situation which cries out for attention from Mr. Shultz.
* In the international economics field, Shultz is now highly active. He is possibly the most experienced top-level official in the administration in this field, and he is sitting in on meetings of key policymakers who are dealing with domestic economic and budgetary problems as well.
Under Shultz, the State Department is taking the lead in planning for a new allied economic summit meeting to be held at the end of May in Williamsburg, Va. Shultz and his advisers are determined to avoid anything resembling the disastrous misunderstanding over East-West trade which followed the Versailles summit in June of last year.
The State Department experts want to shift the style of these annual summits away from the Versailles-type extravaganza, which raises unrealistically high expectations, and back to the original concept, which was to hold less rigidly structured, lower-key consultations among the allied leaders. In the Shultz view , the latter type of summit may not produce headline-grabbing results, but it can greatly increase understanding on all sides.
Officials say that in every economic crisis area - whether it be a question of exchange rates or the developing countries' debts - Shultz wants to keep the main focus on one overriding issue: How to bring about worldwide economic recovery.''We've still got the Middle East and all the other high-priority items ,'' said one State Department official.
''We've got people killing each other in some parts of the world. But there's a lot of underlying tension and frustration in the economic area that could explode in the wrong way as well.''