Soviet Foreign Minister Alexander A. Bessmertnykh offered assurances Monday there would be a U.S.-Soviet summit meeting, but he hedged on whether it would be held next month.
"There will be a summit," he said at the start of another round of talks with Secretary of State James A. Baker III. "As for the timing, we'll discuss it."Soviet military actions against the independence movement in the Baltic republics has caused President Bush to reconsider his scheduled meeting Feb. 11-13 with Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev in Moscow.
Bush is expected to decide after he sees Bessmertnykh later at the White House.
Bessmertnykh told reporters that troops recently sent to the Baltics had been withdrawn, but others remained.
Baker did not seem impressed. "We're concerned by troop actions in the Baltics," he said. "That's no secret."
Bush administration officials have been hinting for some time that the summit would be postponed.
Bessmertnykh called his two-hour meeting with Baker "very intensive" and said they would meet again on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Vitaly Churkin, the Soviet foreign ministry spokesman, said "it is the desire of the central government, the president (Gorbachev), to work out the situation (in the Baltics) politically."
But he said on the ABC-TV program "Good Morning America" that "the problem there is that of ensuring the rights of national minorities, civil and human rights of people, and ensuring the observance of the Constitution."
He added that "at times it is very difficult to do that because the authorities in Lithuania seem to disregard the Constitution and keep saying, `we are not part of the Soviet Union'."
"Things at times are getting out of hand there," Churkin said.
In one sign of improved U.S.-Soviet ties, a daily 15-minute vigil at the Soviet Embassy has been suspended after 20 years because the Soviets have relaxed emigration restrictions, organizers say.
The superpowers' delicate relationship has been complicated not only by the Kremlin's crackdown on the independence-minded Baltic republics but also by differences over the strategy the United States is employing in the allied war to drive Iraq out of Kuwait.