The Geneva Summit. World begins to assess outcome of `fireside summit'. US sees better superpower relations in the future
Congressional leaders and Soviet specialists of all political stripes joined ranks Thursday in giving qualified praise to the accomplishments of the Geneva summit. ``The President comes out of this very well,'' says Richard C. Lugar (R) of Indiana, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. ``President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev leave [the summit] with a better personal relationship that's likely to set the stage for many more contacts between the Soviet Union and ourselves.'' Rhetoric gives way to reasonSkip to next paragraph
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``Ugly rhetoric has finally given way to reason. That's a very important first step,'' agrees retired Rear Adm. Eugene J. Carroll Jr., deputy director of the Center for Defense Information, a private research organization generally critical of the Reagan administration's defense policies.
``Before the summit, the Soviets insisted that agreement to cut SDI [the Reagan administration's Strategic Defense Initiative] was a precondition for any meaningful dialogue. The summit proved that this is not so,'' adds Mikhail Tsypkin, a Soviet specialist at the conservative Heritage Foundation.
But reactions Thursday from Washington also reflected concern over the large volume of unfinished business left behind in Geneva. Despite the achievement of accords on several minor issues, including cultural exchanges and the opening of new consulates in New York and Kiev, the first superpower summit in six years produced no agreement or guidelines on how to limit nuclear arsenals. The two leaders also failed to reach agreement on the key issues of human rights and regional disputes.
``No amount of summitry, no amount of backslapping will ever solve the problem that both sides have absolutely different strategic goals,'' cautions Dr. Tsypkin.
Observers say the most significant aspect of the summit may have been the decision by both leaders to meet privately for extended periods. Instead of the 30 minutes originally planned, Messers. Reagan and Gorbachev met together for nearly five hours, with only interpreters present. Following six years of strained relations and a summit largely devoid of substantive accomplishment, Soviet specialists say that kind of personal rapport may become more important than ever as a basis for building future coop eration.
``The mere fact that they met and talked generously and long, and the fact that each apparently was listening is a positive development,'' says House majority leader Jim Wright (D) of Texas. Continued talks are a welcome sign
Also welcomed here was news that at least two more summits will take place. The two leaders agreed to swap visits, with a trip by Gorbachev to the United States in 1986 and a trip by Reagan to Moscow in 1987.
``I'm more than delighted that they're going to have continued talks,'' says House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. (D) of Massachusetts. ``As long as we're sitting across the table, there's always a possibility . . . that somehow we'll strike an agreement. In part, this relieves the tension of the world.''
These reactions come in the wake of a summit many thought would never take place. The Soviets demured for months because of the President's commitment to SDI. Meanwhile, Reagan administration officials balked until recently at the idea of a mere get-acquainted session. But in the end, the Geneva meeting was just that.
Many observers now say this may have been the best possible outcome for an American leader whose long suit is congeniality and not mastery of technical details.
The summit was like a ``graduate seminar,'' Senator Lugar told reporters at breakfast Thursday, with ``patient explanations by both sides of their viewpoints.'' But Lugar says the format served US interests by providing the President more control over the agenda. ``He got what he wanted across and essentially dealt on terms he wanted to deal with,'' Lugar said.
Lugar also predicted that the US allies in Europe would be ``elated'' at the outcome of the meeting, since it produced the very ``touching and feeling'' many European leaders have insisted is necessary to keep East-West relations on an even keel.
In other comments Thursday, Lugar, a leading Senate moderate, dismissed as ``personality journalism'' allegations that President Reagan's heightened interest in reaching an arms control agreement has been prompted by First Lady Nancy Reagan.
``There's no evidence at all'' that the President's ``normal judgments have been deflected by a personal quest of Mrs. Reagan or anyone else,'' Lugar said. Lugar also discounted the influence on the summit talks of the now-famous leaked letter from Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger urging firmness at the Geneva meeting.
``It had absolutely no effect whatsoever,'' Lugar said.