Soviet offer in Gulf gets US rebuff. In message to Reagan, Gorbachev says he's willing to work with US

Amid growing Soviet concern at United States naval pressure in the Gulf, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has sent a message to President Reagan expressing willingness to work with the US to settle the crisis, a Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman said yesterday. The White House promptly rejected the proposal. The spokesman, Boris Pyadyshev, told reporters that Mr. Gorbachev's message - sent several days ago in reply to a letter from Mr. Reagan - noted that ``some statements'' by US representatives had apparently shown ``interest in Soviet proposals on the Gulf.''

This seemed to refer to initial US reactions to the Soviet statement of July 4, in which Moscow called for the withdrawal of all foreign warships - including its own and US vessels - from the Gulf as a preliminary measure to ease tension. If the US really was interested in recent Soviet proposals, the Gorbachev message reportedly continued, ``we would be ready to discuss the issue with the United States more formally in any format convenient for the President.''

In commenting on Monday's UN Security Council resolution demanding a cease-fire in the Iran-Iraq war, Pyadyshev said the Soviet Union was willing to help in ``every way possible'' with UN efforts to end the war.

The Gorbachev message comes at a time of growing official Soviet criticism of the US plan to reflag Kuwaiti vessels. In a commentary yesterday, the official news agency Tass described the plan as ``a large-scale military operation which may have unpredictable consequences.''

The Soviets claim that the US naval presence in the Gulf is motivated primarily by desire to put military pressure on the Soviet Union.

Writing yesterday in the Soviet labor newspaper Trud, a military observer asserted that US aims in the region were twofold.

Under the guise of helping neutral nations, Washington is ``trying to assure its permanent military presence close to the southern borders of the Soviet Union,'' the paper wrote. The current naval deployment is therefore a means of obtaining ``access to land and air bases on the territory of Gulf states,'' Trud concluded.

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