Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev intends to use his minisummit with U.S. leaders next week to try to make progress on a wide range of bilateral and international issues including arms negotiations, Central America, Afghanistan and the Middle East, a Kremlin spokesman said Friday.
Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Petrovsky told a news conference here that it is essential to ensure "stability and predictability" in Soviet-American relations as a new president is about to take over in the United States. Gorbachev will be meeting with both President Reagan and President-elect George Bush on Wednesday after addressing the United Nations General Assembly.The trip to New York, which will be followed by visits to Cuba and Britain, caps a particularly hectic fall schedule for the Soviet president. Over the past few weeks, he has received a stream of West European leaders in Moscow, paid an official visit to India, and sought to set the Soviet Union on the road to major political reform.
Friday, Gorbachev received Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen, and the official news agency Tass, reporting on their meeting, predicted that a Sino-Soviet summit, the first in three decades, could take place in the first half of next year. Qian, who has been holding talks with Shevardnadze, flies back to Beijing on Saturday after a news conference.
U.S. officials have sought to dampen expectations about the New York lunchtime meeting, which they refuse to characterize as a summit. The Soviets, by contrast, are anxious to signal that they are ready for substantive talks to avoid any "artificial pause" in the presidential transition.
"The Soviet leadership intends to put on the agenda of the New York talks important, significant questions of real, political, coordinated action by both sides over a wide range of problems," Petrovsky said.
The deputy foreign minister added that the talks should include a review "and further advancement" of strategic arms reduction talks, human rights, the settlement of regional conflicts as well as bilateral relations.
A senior U.S. official here said that he did not expect any real negotiations at the lunch, which will be hosted by Reagan on Governors Island in New York harbor. He conceded, however, that the leaders of the two superpowers would not be "confining themselves to social pleasantries."
Soviet officials view Bush as a pragmatic politician with whom they should be able to establish a comfortable working relationship. With the Soviet economy in serious difficulty, they maintain that they want to look for new ways of controlling massive arms expenditures by both the superpowers.
The Soviet Foreign Ministry has taken the unprecedented step of laying on a special press plane to give journalists based in Moscow the opportunity of following Gorbachev on his latest travels. On previous occasions, the press has been left to make its own arrangements.
At Friday's news conference, Petrovsky singled out "problems linked to the situation around Afghanistan, the situation in Central America and prospects for a Middle East statement" as subjects for discussion with the president and president-elect.
"We are ready to go our half of the distance and to put meaning into the concept of constructive continuity, to which Soviet and American representatives often refer," he said.