General Secretary Mikhail S. Gorbachev suggested to Secretary of State George P. Shultz Friday that "maybe we're marking time" in superpower relations, as hopes for a new arms control accord faded.
The session at the gilded Catherine's Hall in the Kremlin wound up Shultz's talks here with little noticeable headway toward a history-making summit meeting at the end of May.When Shultz told the Soviet leader: "I'm here to make preparations for the president's visit," Gorbachev responded: "As for the substance, it seems that we are losing something.
"Maybe we're marking time," Gorbachev added.
The two men shook hands at the outset, but Gorbachev seemed somewhat subdued. American reporters were cautioned by Soviet officials that if they attempted to ask questions of Gorbachev during the photo-taking session they would not be invited back.
Usually, Gorbachev welcomes a few questions, using the occasion to make brief speeches and engage in genial banter.
Through interpreters, Gorbachev joked a bit with Shultz over the many thousands of miles the American envoy had logged recently in trips to the Middle East, the Soviet Union and Europe.
American officials have virtually abandoned hopes of completing a treaty to reduce long-range nuclear missiles by May 29, the date for the Moscow summit.
On the regional front, there was little superpower cooperation. Despite another appeal by Shultz, the Soviets still declined to support an international arms embargo against Iran, which delays any action by the U.N. Security Council.
And a U.S. official told reporters Thursday that a newly submitted Soviet draft on space defense conforms to a tough Soviet line that could make weapons cutbacks impossible.
The U.S. official, summing up Shultz's talks with Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze under rules of anonymity, said there were no breakthroughs.
However, he said they had a "good exchange" in a "positive atmosphere."
In Washington last December, Gorbachev and Reagan signed an accord ridding both of their nations of medium- and shorter-range missiles. They called then for another pact cutting strategic arms by 50 percent.