Washington — Reagan makes overtures for Soviet cooperation
In the absence of progress on nuclear arms control, President Reagan continues to hold out an olive branch to the Soviet Union in other fields of cooperation.
At a White House meeting Wednesday with participants in a private conference on US-Soviet exchanges, the President spelled out a whole range of bilateral activities where headway could be made, including renewal of the cultural exchange agreement which lapsed in 1980.
Administration officials say the United States will present a draft agreement on cultural, educational, and scientific exchanges in the near future.
The US suspended talks on the agreement last year after the Soviets shot down a South Korean civilian airliner, killing all 269 persons on board.
The President is also seeking movement on the establishment of consulates in New York and Kiev. The administration recently proposed sending a US team to Kiev, the capital of Soviet Ukraine, to examine property there, an administration official said.
Other American proposals include talks on joint rescue missions in space, renewal of the economic cooperation agreement, and invigoration of a variety of bilateral agreements in such areas as health, housing, and agriculture.
Earlier this week William D. Ruckelshaus, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, signed an agreement with the Soviet Union on reviving an agreement on exchanges of environmental information.
The US has been exploring these and other issues with the Soviets for many months, trying to get back to the state of relations which existed before the Korean airline disaster.
Political observers believe that Mr. Reagan is bringing these diplomatic efforts to the fore publicly now to boost his image as a ''peacemaker'' in an election year and demonstrate that he is striving to renew contacts.
''What the United States wants to do is improve contacts and communicate more effectively,'' an administration official said before the President made his remarks.
''The degree that the relations are bad is exaggerated in the public mind,'' the official said. ''Relations are not as good as we had hoped,'' he acknowledged, ''but it is not a dangerous relationship.''