Reagan administration officials said yesterday they hope Soviet Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin will bring word about the timing of a U.S.-Soviet summit meeting when he returns from Moscow late this week to bid Washington farewell.
Dobrynin, who has been named to a senior foreign policy post in the Soviet Communist Party, is expected to see Secretary of State George P. Shultz and possibly President Reagan early next week before officially departing after 24 years as ambassador to the United States.
The U.S. officials said they have no promise that Dobrynin will clarify the Soviet summit position but that the ambassador's long experience in such matters and his important new job in Moscow have generated much anticipation.
The U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, Arthur Hartman, is seeking information about the summit in Moscow, officials said.
Soviet diplomats and other officials continue to say privately as well as publicly that Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev remains committed to new summit meetings with Reagan in the United States and, later, in the Soviet Union, according to U.S. sources. The timing, though, continues to be uncertain.
According to U.S. sources, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze was formally invited to Washington in January to begin preparations for the next summit meeting but did not reply. Shevardnadze also passed up a less formal suggestion that he come here last month to begin preparatory talks, the sources said.
As for Reagan, he "feels strongly that he reached agreement" with Gorbachev at Geneva that there will be further summits and has not changed his mind, said a White House official. Reagan is "very deeply interested" in meeting Gorbachev again and "wants to maintain the momentum of high-level dialogue," the official said.
Several senior U.S. officials have expressed irritation at the delay in starting preparations for the meeting and setting a date. The administration has proposed June or July but has said it would consider the period after the November elections if Gorbachev is unwilling to come here in early summer.
Reagan's desire to have a summit meeting, said an official, "doesn't mean we stop pursuing our interests" in such questions as confrontation with Libya, military aid to anti-Soviet rebels in various countries, nuclear weapons testing and cutbacks in Soviet diplomatic personnel at the United Nations.
Officials also said the United States will not change its positions in the Geneva talks on nuclear and space arms or other East-West negotiations in order to bring about Soviet cooperation on scheduling a summit. In the U.S. view, Gorbachev agreed without conditions to a meeting with Reagan and will not be permitted to obtain a price for fulfilling his commitment.