Text of a statement by President Reagan and excerpts of his exchange with reporters about the summit announcement:

I have just finished meeting with Soviet Foreign Minister {Eduard} Shevardnadze, and Mr. Shevardnadze presented a letter to me from General Secretary {Mikhail} Gorbachev, who has accepted my invitation to come to Washington for a summit, beginning on Dec. 7.

At that time, we expect to sign an agreement eliminating the entire class of U.S. and Soviet intermediate-range nuclear forces, or INF.

In his letter, General Secretary Gorbachev set forth his views of other arms-reductions topics that should be discussed during that meeting and indicated the foreign minister had authority to agree on the agenda and duration of the meeting.

I'm studying that letter carefully, and it appears forthcoming and statesmanlike, and I welcome it.

In our discussions, Foreign Minister Shevardnadze and I reviewed the status of outstanding issues incident to completing an INF agreement and discussed progress in Geneva.

The remaining details, while technical, are important in ensuring effective verification of any agreement.

Verification remains a major concern of the United States. Our proposals will result in the most comprehensive verification regime in history.

We also reviewed recent developments in other negotiations as well, and I stressed the importance I place on reaching an agreement on reducing strategic offensive arms by 50 percent.

In particular, I emphasize that we seek a formal, verifiable treaty and do not believe either nation should settle for anything less. We agreed to work toward such an agreement, which I hope to sign during a visit to Moscow next year.

Foreign Minister Shevardnadze and I also discussed the general state of relations between our two countries.

We agreed that in addition to arms reductions, a meeting between myself and the general secretary should deal with the whole range of issues that concern us, including bilateral, regional and human rights issues.

Secretary Shultz and Mr. Shevardnadze will continue their discussions this afternoon, and I am very pleased with the results of my discussion today. A formal announcement on behalf of the two governments will be forthcoming shortly.

I am looking forward to welcoming Mr. Gorbachev to Washington and to productive discussions with him that will advance the U.S. agenda of peace and freedom . . . .

Q: What caused Secretary Gorbachev to have a change in heart? Why is he more comfortable in coming in December? And how long will the visit last, and will it go beyond Washington?

A: I don't know about the term of the visit. I think it will be simply for that conference, because he has some scheduling problems, too, just as we do here. But, as to the other things there, I can't say. I don't know.

Q: You don't know why he changed his mind?

A: There's never been, to my knowledge, any negative from him. Back in Geneva, in our first meeting, we agreed to two more summits, and the first one to be here and the second one to be there . . . .

Q: I thought he said he wasn't comfortable coming to Washington at this time.

A: He seems to be.

Q: You talked about 50 percent reductions on strategic weapons. Do you think, as a result of the letter from General Secretary Gorbachev, that there is some movement possible on strategic defense that would make the other kinds of reductions possible? Are they still linked?

A: Not in the sense of making one a condition for the other. All of these things are going to be discussed between our people. But I've made it clear, and there's no -- they've not rejected this -- that there's no way that we can give up SDI {the Strategic Defense Initiative}, which we believe is offering an opportunity for peace for the world.

Q: But are you saying that there could be reductions on the missile side without progress on strategic defense?

A: We think we've made some progress at strategic defense, in that it is no longer put down as a flat demand.

Q: There have been some indications from the administration in recent days that there is a flexibility on the deployment schedule for your Strategic Defense Initiative. Could this come into play in your discussions with Mr. Gorbachev?

A: This would be one of the things that would be discussed. There are some things that we've agreed to discuss about that . . . .

Q: So you think it's possible that that could help you get an agreement on strategic missiles?

A: Yes.

Q: If I heard you correctly, you seem to be talking about the fact that there are still some remaining details, including some on verification, to be completed. Am I correct? Have you announced a summit and the fact that you will sign an INF agreement when in fact it isn't done yet?

A: I think that will be taken care of in a statement that will be given to you shortly . . . . But there is being released a joint communique that will answer a number of these questions.

Q: Is it, in fact, done? In other words, every "i" is dotted, every "t" is crossed?

A: No, I don't think we can say that.

{Secretary of State George P. Shultz: It's not done, but if it doesn't get done, Mr. Shevardnadze and I are going to get kicked in the rear end very hard by our leaders. Reagan: Yes.}

Q: Some conservatives are already saying that this is nothing but a PR {public relations} summit and that signing this INF treaty is going to endanger Europe. This week, during the Republican {presidential candidates'} debate, the majority of the candidates from your own party were against the INF treaty. Why are you having such trouble convincing your old friends that this is a good deal?

A: I think that there's a great deal of misunderstanding having to do with our relationship with our European allies and all of that. I can only assure you that none of us feel that way. We believe that we're leaving a situation that is equal between our two countries with the things yet to be tied down in verification and so forth . . . . I have great confidence in it . . . .

Q: Why are these talks starting on Pearl Harbor Day?

A: . . . Do you know that I hadn't even thought about that until we were sitting in the Cabinet Room in this recent meeting? And I thought to myself, "Wouldn't it be wonderful if Pearl Harbor Day would become superseded by the day that we began the path to peace and safety in the world through disarmament?"

Q: How disappointed are you that you will not be able to take Gorbachev around the country and show him what you had wanted to show him, like your ranch?

A: Maybe that could be another meeting, that he would come purely for that purpose. And I would still like to do that, just as I know when we discussed these two meetings in Geneva, he suggested that there might be things in the Soviet Union that he would like to show me.

Q: . . . Do you think ratification will be a problem? Senate ratification . . . . ?

A: Not if they're thinking cor- rectly . . . .