U.S. and Soviet officials are trying to devise a time frame for future arms negotiations as part of a joint communique that could be issued after next month's summit meeting between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, according to officials of both nations.
National security affairs adviser Robert C. McFarlane said yesterday that a statement of principles on arms control will probably be included in the communique issued at the end of the summit in Geneva Nov. 19-20.
But a Soviet official said last week that the two countries are still dickering over the timing of future arms talks. The official said his country wants a shorter period for the negotiations and fears that the United States wants to lengthen the process.
The arms-control statement could be one of several agreements issued after the summit. The two superpowers are exploring possible joint undertakings on nuclear proliferation and perhaps a nonproliferation pact on chemical weapons.
A joint statement on arms control remains less than a certainty, officials said in recent interviews. U.S. officials said they have made it clear to the Soviets that they want any such statement substantially completed -- "precooked," as one official put it -- before the summit.
"We've told the Soviets we don't plan to do any major drafting during the two days in Geneva," the official said.
McFarlane, interviewed on "Face the Nation" (CBS-WDVM), was asked whether, during a visit to Moscow next weekend, Secretary of State George P. Shultz would talk with Gorbachev about a U.S.-Soviet communique that would include a "statement of principles" on arms control.
"Oh, I think there will surely be an important focus on arms control," McFarlane said. He did not elaborate but said Reagan believes that it is his responsibility to "leave office with a real reduction in nuclear arms."
For this to happen, McFarlane said, the Soviets must adhere to a pattern of "responsible behavior," particularly in Afghanistan. Reagan has indirectly linked progress on arms control with progress on solving regional conflicts involving the Soviet Union.
McFarlane predicted "some closure" between the United States and the Soviets on relatively minor issues as a result of Shultz's meeting with Gorbachev. U.S. officials say they believe the invitation to Shultz is an indication that the Soviets want a successful summit.
Several U.S. officials recently have spoken positively about the Soviet proposal for 50 percent reductions in some categories of nuclear weapons. Last week, Vice President Bush called it a "step in the right direction."
In an interview with The Associated Press released yesterday, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) said the Soviet proposal moves the process "miles down the trail toward some type of agreement."
The Geneva summit offers other areas for possible agreement. A long-pending consular agreement that would give the Soviets an office in New York City and the United States one in Kiev is near conclusion. U.S. diplomats recently were looking at a prospective building in Kiev, a Soviet official said.
Renewal of the lapsed cultural agreement has been the subject of extended negotiations. One obstacle, according to U.S. officials, is that the Soviets want assurance that defectors will be returned, not given U.S. asylum.