Reagan's 'back fence' talks with Brezhnev
Washington — President Reagan has been on the phone "several times" with Soviet President Leonid I. Brezhnev during which "the whole relationship between the countries has been discussed."
So says Edwin S. Meese III, counselor to the President. "Arms limitations were discussed," he added, but said he could not go into any details.
In conversations with reporters over breakfast Aug. 3, Mr. Meese, viewed by veteran presidential watchers as the President's No. 2 man, said that Mr. Reagan was very interested in "getting a treaty with genuine arms limitations -- and ultimately arms reductions."
On other subjects Mr. Meese had this to say:
* Asked about any trade-off between increased defense spending and a balanced 1984 federal budget, Meese replied: "I'm not sure it is either-or. We think we probably can balance the budget and still maintain our full defense plan."
Nevertheless, the President reportedly has asked the US Defense Department to be prepared to trim its 1983 budget by 5 percent if the goal of a balanced 1984 budget appears threatened.
* Meese was asked, "Will you now push ahead with social legislation -- school prayer, school busing, abortion -- now that you have your economic program passed?" His answer:
"We will be setting priorities in the next two or three weeks. The candidates for major attention include:
"1. Crime including narcotics enforcement.
"2. New efforts to support federalism -- the return of power to states and localities.
"3. Urban problems, including efforts to deal with joblessness.
"4. The whole defense program, including personnel problems and strategic policy.
"5. Foreign affairs.
"6. The whole problem of housing.
"7. The social issues."
* Meese said that a prime objective of the upcoming Sadat visit here was to try to build on the cease-fire and "try to involve the more-moderat e Arab nations in the peace process."