From an easy chair in his top-floor office suite at the State Department, Secretary of State George Shultz last week surveyed United States foreign policy around the world in an interview with The Monitor. His comments included the following:
On prospects for an agreement with the Soviets on medium-range nuclear missiles:
``I would think that it's quite possible that that could be done before January. ... If we don't have an arms control agreement, nevertheless the ingredients for such agreements of a radically different sort than has ever been done before - that is, arms control agreements that reduce these nuclear weapons - that groundwork has been laid.''
On prospects for Middle East peace talks:
``It's a hard thing to measure because you're not there till you're there. To a certain extent it's true that we have seen a lot of problems get resolved in the Middle East. There has been much more accomplished than meets the eye [such as resolving the Taba dispute between Israel and Egypt and Israel's acceptance of Arab mayors in some West Bank towns].
``All of these things are important things. They don't tend to be in the news stories, but if you add them all up it presents you with a picture of some progress. Some of this understructure [of the peace process] is going on. ... I'm always ready to go to the Middle East if there's a prospect of accomplishing something.''
On accomplishments in Central America:
``The Central American situation is vastly different than it was when the President came into office. [Then] we had one democracy in Central America and there was a kind of assumption lying around that the communists were going to take things over and that nothing could be done about it.
That has been turned around completely. We now have elected civilian presidents in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. ...There is broad bipartisan readiness to help those four countries [including Costa Rica]. ... That's a gigantic change right there. ... [Our goal is to have] five democratic governments, not four, in Central America.''
On ``indirect'' talks between the Nicaraguan government and the contras and possible cease-fire arrangements:
``These questions are basically premature. ... The [contras] have had a proposal on the table for a long time, and there has been no response to it from the other side. So I think the question of whether we would be willing or not willing to engage in this or that tactical response are really beside the point. You don't really get to those questions until there's a willingness to engage. Once they get to that point we'll be creative about how to do it.''
On Philippine President Corazon Aquino:
``Basically I think she's doing an extraordinary job. I tip my hat to her. [But] we haven't given her adequate support. We had to cut the security assistance that she legitimately expected to get more or less in half as a result of these budget cuts that are being applied. I think that is not a good thing to do given the problems she has with the [communist] insurgency.''