President Reagan said Wednesday he has found a new breed of leadership in the Soviet Union that has eased differences between the superpowers but his policy remains: "trust but verify."
His fourth summit with Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev over, Reagan told a windup news conference in Spasso House, home of American ambassadors in Moscow, "I am never going to relax my belief in the need for verification."Reagan acknowledged that his view of the Soviets has changed, but he said that was due to changes within the Kremlin leadership and not his own personal beliefs.
The president was reminded that at his first news conference in the White House in 1981 he said that Communist leaders are willing to lie and cheat in pursuit of world domination.
Asked if that was still his view, he said in 1981 he had merely been quoting what Communist leaders themselves had said. Using the Russian words, he said with a smile, that his policy remains trust the Soviets, but insist on verification.
Reagan repeatedly spoke of the "satisfactory relationship" that had developed between himself and Gorbachev, who, he said, "I have found different than previous Soviet leaders."
"A large part of it is Mr. Gorbachev as a leader . . . I read Perestroika and I found much in it that I agreed with," Reagan said.
"We can look with optimism to future negotiations" to reduce strategic arms, Reagan said.
He and Gorbachev had hoped to sign a treaty reducing long-range nuclear missiles by 30 percent to 50 percent at the Moscow summit.
"The conversation are still going on and they are still being discussed, and I say progress is still being made or we wouldn't be talking as we are," he said. But Reagan said, "I am dead set against deadlines," and was non-committal about the possibility of a fifth summit meeting with Gorbachev before he leaves office.
Reagan addressed reporters shortly after Gorbachev, at the first news conference he had ever held in the Soviet Union, noted with pleasure that Reagan had retracted his characterization of this country as an "evil empire."
Reagan said Gorbachev and other Soviet leaders "have had a feeling that in some way" American concern with human rights conditions in the Soviet Union constitute "interfering in your interal government policies."
He said he explained to Gorbachev how human rights are cherished in America.
"We feel it's very much our business to bring it to the attention of the government," he said.
"In noting the differences that still stand between us, therefore, my desire has not been to sound a note of discouragement but one of realism, not to conduct a tutorial but to give the kind of emphatic testimony to the truth that over the long run removes illusion and moves the process of negotiation forward," he said.
He said as a result of bringing to Gorbachev's attention instances of injustices "many of the individuals were allowed to emigrate."
And he suggested that Soviet refusal to permit thousands of dissidents to emigrate may be due to an unresponsive bureaucracy.
Reagan said he would not rule out another summit _ it would be their fifth _ with Gorbachev even if such a START treaty were not agreed upon.
Asked about prospects from agreement on START in his term, he said, "I honestly cannot answer that. I don't know."
He said negotiators are continuing working in Geneva on the difficult issues involved, but, "There is no way that I would give them a date (for completion) . . . because that is not the way to get a good treaty."