Secretary of State George P. Shultz said yesterday that President Reagan's purpose at his proposed summit meeting with the new Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, would be "to review the bidding" on a broad range of issues between the nuclear superpowers "and see where we may go from here."
Shultz's remarks, on "This Week With David Brinkley" [ABC, WJLA] strongly suggested that the United States is interested in a "get-acquainted" summit with Gorbachev within several months. Previously, U.S. statements had cast little light on its preferred timing for the meeting, which Reagan proposed in a letter to Gorbachev.
Vice President Bush and Shultz delivered the letter to the newly selected Soviet Communist Party general secretary in Moscow last Wednesday, hours after the funeral of Gorbachev's predecessor, Konstantin Chernenko.
Friday, after returning from Moscow and reporting to Reagan, Shultz told a news conference the United States believed that a "moment of opportunity" existed for improved U.S.-Soviet relations.
On television yesterday, Shultz placed the timing of the proposed summit within this "moment," as he had not done earlier.
Asked about the omission of the previous U.S. condition that a summit be "well-prepared," Shultz said that "there has been implicitly quite a lot of preparation in the sense that the two sides have made their positions quite clear on a very wide range of issues."
He added, "At a moment when the president is starting a new term with his basic policies in place, when we do have arms talks starting in Geneva, when we have a new leader of the Soviet Union, it seems to be a moment when it would be useful to review the bidding . . . . All of these things create a moment when, at least the president believes, it would be worthwhile to review the bidding and see where we may go from here."
Shultz said he had "not really" had any reply to Reagan's proposal of a summit meeting. On the same television program, Stanislav M. Menshikov, an adviser to the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party, said Reagan's letter "is being studied" and that a reply will be made "in due course."
On the Geneva arms talks, Shultz took exception to views expressed on Soviet television Saturday by the chief Soviet negotiator, Viktor Karpov. Karpov criticized the U.S. position, saying that it seems to indicate Washington wants to revise the agreed-upon agenda.
"I don't know just when it was recorded," said Shultz of the Karpov interview. "But if that kind of performance is to mean that the Soviets approach these negotiations as propaganda opportunities, then that doesn't bode very well for the negotiations." Shultz called for confidentiality, to which the two sides had agreed.
Commenting on reports that the Soviets have sternly warned Pakistan about continued support of the Afghan resistance to a Soviet-backed government, Shultz said, "I think the Pakistanis will hold firm in their concern about what's going on in Afghanistan."
Both Shultz and Menshikov said they could see no link between Pakistan and Nicaragua. Washington Post correspondent Dusko Doder reported from Moscow Friday that the Kremlin, according to well-informed sources, was considering unspecified actions against Pakistan if Reagan continued his military pressure on Nicaragua.