President Reagan has decided to dispatch a team of arms control officials who have previously tangled among themselves to the U.S.-Soviet arms talks in Geneva next month, administration sources said yesterday.
The idea, according to the sources, is to provide Secretary of State George P. Shultz quick interagency action on ideas that may be proposed by Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei A. Gromyko.
"It will be like having the session in Washington. He'll have the backup to get agency approval," an official said.
Joining Shultz in the meeting with Gromyko will be veteran negotiator Paul H. Nitze, who was formally appointed by Reagan yesterday as a special "adviser" to Shultz for the Geneva talks. The other experts may not be in the Shultz-Gromyko sessions, which will be conducted by only a very small group on each side, said a State Department source.
Those who are being invited to go to Geneva for the Jan. 7-8 sessions are members of a special White House-sponsored arms control policy group chaired by national security affairs adviser Robert C. McFarlane. It is unlikely that McFarlane himself will attend, an official said.
The group will, however, include Assistant Secretary of State Richard R. Burt and Assistant Defense Secretary Richard N. Perle, known in government as the "two Richards" and famous for their often contending views and their influence over administration policy toward the Soviet Union.
The others, officials said, are expected to include Kenneth L. Adelman, director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency; Gen. Edward L. Rowney, U.S. negotiator in the strategic arms talks; Gen. John Chain, State Department director of politico-military affairs; Ronald Lehman, National Security Council specialist on arms control, and a representative of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Nitze, who was U.S. chief in the unsuccessful 1981-83 negotiations on limiting medium-range weapons in Europe, was given a special status by a White House announcement and a meeting with Reagan and Shultz yesterday. As a sign of his standing, Nitze is being given an office close to that of Shultz on the State Department seventh floor.
Reagan said in a statement that he asked Nitze to serve at the recommendation of Shultz.
When and if the Shultz-Gromyko discussions lead to a resumption of arms negotiations, Nitze's role will depend on the structure of the negotiations and other factors, the officials said.