Excerpts from the translation of General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev's opening statement and responses to questions at a news conference:

I have to apologize for being late . . . . We can now regard the visit as having been completed . . . . I realize that it is natural that you are interested . . . {in} our assessment of the results of this visit . . . . so perhaps in my introductory remarks I will use up more time than usual . . . . This has been my third meeting in the last 2 1/2 years {with President Reagan}, and this in itself says a great deal . . . about the dynamism of the political dialogue between the U.S. administration and the leadership of the Soviet Union . . . . We can say that Geneva, Reykjavik were not in vain as were not in vain other steps taken by our side as well as by the U.S. administration.

. . . And I should like to begin my assessment of this visit first . . . by saying that it has become a major event in world politics. I would even go so far as to say that we might even talk about beginning a new phase and an important phase from the standpoint of Soviet-American bilateral relations and . . . the world situation. Much has taken place during the negotiations . . . I should like to find some very precise words . . . to convey the nature, the character of the talks and correctly to summarize the political results . . . .

First . . . we can talk about a deepening political dialogue . . . . After we completed our negotiations with the president today, we have issued a joint statement . . . at the highest level. This fact alone bears witness to a certain dynamism and a certain level achieved in our political dialogue. The importance of that document lies in the fact that it shows both the range and the content of the discussions . . . . In reading this document, you will be able to gauge both the degree of mutual understanding and accord on various questions and you will also feel, I trust, that this document . . . is confirmation of the fact that serious discord still remains.

. . . What do we assess on the positive side in that document? Firstly, the president and I have noted that in relations . . . certain progress has of late been achieved. Secondly . . . we have agreed that what has been achieved today is based on Geneva and Reykjavik . . . . that made possible the steps aimed at improving strategic stability and lessening the danger of conflicts.

. . . We have forcefully reaffirmed the solemn declaration of Geneva. We deemed it necessary to do this once again . . . . We declared, reaffirmed that nuclear war should never be fought and cannot be won, that we are fully determined to prevent any war between our countries, nuclear or conventional, and that we shall not seek to achieve military superiority. This is something that we regard as an undertaking of unlimited duration by the two great nations before the entire world community.

Thirdly, emphasis has been put on the special responsibility devolving on the Soviet Union and the United States for the quest for realistic ways to prevent confrontation and build up a safer world for mankind entering the third millennium.

Fourthly, while realistically assessing the fact that differences still exist . . . some . . . very serious indeed, we do not regard them as being insurmountable. On the contrary, they urge us on toward greater dialogue.

Summing up this conceptual portion of our joint statement, I can say that, at the highest level of our two states, it has been recognized that they are now emerging from the long, drawn-out confrontation, that they are prepared to leave it behind us . . . . this is an important political result . . . .

{In this} consists the essence of a transition to a new phase in Soviet-American relations. Further, in the course of the visit, work has been completed -- and it took us many years to reach this point -- on preparing a treaty to eliminate intermediate- and shorter-range missiles on a global basis . . . .

Secondly, at the central attention of the negotiations . . . was the problem of a radical reduction in strategic offensive arms. I would say that that problem took up most of our time and . . . some parts were resolved at the time when the participants in the official farewell ceremony were already waiting for us on the South Lawn . . . .

We were talking about a reduction by one-half. It is a complex issue. . . .

We achieved significant -- and I use that word because it is the correct word, I've given careful thought to this -- we have achieved considerable headway on this problem which is the major one for the Soviet Union, the United States and for other nations . . . .

At long last, we . . . developed the problem of limiting the deployment of long-range sea-launched cruise missiles. The American side has agreed to establish limits for such missiles over and above the 6,000 warheads and to conduct a search for mutually acceptable and effective methods of verification of such limitations . . . .

Mutual understanding in the field of verification is a consequence of the successful work done in preparing the INF Treaty . . . .

The president and I, with due regard for preparing the treaty on strategic offensive arms, have instructed the delegations in Geneva to elaborate an agreement which would make it incumbent upon both . . . sides to comply with the ABM Treaty in the form in which it was signed in 1972.

And that includes the process of research, development and, if necessary, tests which are allowed under the ABM Treaty and that, for an agreed period of time, there should be no withdrawal from the treaty. That is what we inscribed in our joint statement. We agreed that we would continue intensive discussion of strategic stability.

It has also been defined that if the U.S.S.R. and United States fail to agree after the time limit for the treaty to be in effect, then each side will have the right to determine its mode of action. As you see, we have moved significantly ahead on the problem of nuclear and space arms . . . the most important and the most complex problem . . . .

Thirdly, when we reach common positions on eliminating intermediate- and shorter-range missiles and addressed the problems of reducing strategic offensive arms, the question of conventional arms and of chemical weapons have come to the fore . . . .

We believe it necessary to discuss . . . such questions as a corridor with limited armaments, first and foremost of an offensive nature. We should also ponder the principle of sufficiency and in general the problem of comparing military doctrines from the standpoint of transforming them into purely defensive ones . . . . The American side treated our invitation to this kind of an analysis very seriously, displayed interest, and we have agreed to address this problem in a concrete way . . . .

Here, too, we are trying to be realists. Probably, this is a process which will have to go through certain phases. We can't resolve everything at one fell swoop, but we have to start by sitting down at the negotiating table. . . .

We also talked about chemical weapons in the same spirit. The importance that they be eliminated is obvious. This question has long since been under discussion and, until recently, those negotiations had reached some progress . . . .

We exchanged views . . . on a whole spectrum of other questions -- regional, humanitarian. The examination of regional problems was not easy . . . .

There is a broad desire throughout the world to resolve existing regional conflicts through political means . . . .

What we need is new approaches and, most important, both we and the Americans and other countries should unconditionally recognize that each nation has the right to its own choice. That is the key element and the point of departure. Regional solutions cannot be divorced from the question of human rights and humanitarian issues. What can be higher than the right to security, to life, to settling their national affairs as they choose? What can be more favorable for democratic forums and processes unless it is the reliable security of each country?

In short, all this is interlinked, and this is what we would like to arrive at, notably in Afghanistan -- a settlement which would make it possible to put an end to the internal bloody conflict, to prevent the possibility of its recurrence.

We said outright that . . . we're not seeking any outcome under which there has to be a pro-Soviet regime in Afghanistan, but the American side must clearly say that it is not seeking . . . to install a pro-American regime in Afghanistan. In a free, nonaligned, neutral Afghanistan, there must be set up a government on the basis of reconciliation and on the basis of taking into account cooperation among all elements and national reconciliation . . . . .

The political decision on a withdrawal of Soviet forces has been taken. We've named the time limit -- 12 months, maybe less . . . . As we see it, we can name the beginning of the withdrawal of Soviet forces but this must, at the same time, become the . . . beginning of an end to arms and financial supplies to the insurgency forces. From the very first day this is declared, our troops will start pulling out, will stop taking part in military operations, that all military action is ceased and a process of the political solution of the problem begins in which we through our influence can be helpful. But the main thing would be up to the actual various forces within Afghanistan itself, all of the sides concerned . . . .

We discussed also regional conflicts relating to Central America, the Middle East, southern Africa, the situation in the Persian Gulf . . . . On bilateral relations, the Soviet position . . . was the following: The U.S.S.R. and the United States are world powers possessing major economic, intellectual and military potentials, and their weight in international affairs is immense. That determines their role and . . . responsibility.

For . . . the many years of confrontation, acute rivalry, has yielded nothing but harm. We have proved to each other many times that we can live without one another, without trading, without having any extensive scientific or cultural contacts, without any cooperation in the solution of global issues. The question is, however, is that the only thing that we are going to prove to each other?

I wish to assure you that . . . within the Soviet leadership, there are no two opinions. There is one opinion, and a firm decision has been taken. We are in favor of a decisive improvement in relations with the United States . . . . This is necessary for our peoples and . . . the entire world.

I reminded the president that the world was really ridiculing the way in which our two countries are developing their relations. A lot has been said about this. Take any problem, and it would appear that we simply have to have a head-on collision. We're really taking the wrong path and . . . can go much too far unless we stop, and our peoples have sensed this. But, in both countries, it is the people who have elected those who govern them, and it is therefore the tasks of the governments to solve the problems at hand . . . .

In my discussion with the media executives, I explained why I am not all that in favor of giving interviews, because four or five interviews in a row, and I get one and the same questions. Then what are we going to talk about? To beat the air? To try and prove that we have not 4,000, not 2,000, not 500 but only 22 individuals who are imprisoned in our country for having infringed the law, infringed those two well-known articles of the penal code?

That there are only 222 persons who have been refused permission to leave, those who in their younger years were connected by their work with defense industry, with state secrets, with computer technology. No matter what you say, no matter what you shout at us, we shall not let them go before their knowledge of these secrets has evaporated.

Such is the present-day world, and we are forced to take this into account. And yet all of these interviews boil down to . . . just to those questions, as if we are agreeing to give interviews not just to try and search for the truths, to point each other towards serious thinking. But all the aim seems to be to somehow drive the politician into a corner. Is that a dialogue? Is that an interview? That's not what the media is for.

People want to live a better life. People want to have a better understanding of each other. They want to communicate with each other, to make friends. And how much the press tries to inflame quite different feelings and sentiments and not proceeding from any true glasnost.

I'm not trying to accuse any of you or to assert that the politicians are all that good or that the people of the media are so bad. No, but I'm just trying to say that the media has to go in for some perestroika, too, and to master some new thinking. Do you agree with me? Let's do it together. We're all in the same boat. Or is it all clear in your minds? Everything's clear? Then I envy you if everything is clear in your minds. At the same time, I regret it if everything is clear in your minds . . . .

Availing myself of this opportunity, I want to return to one thought. That is the reaction of Americans, the feelings they have expressed in these days. And I would like . . . the visit of this delegation is drawing to a close, I want to say thank you to all Americans for their hospitality, for their openheartedness, for their cordiality.

And they can rely on it that this will be heard in the Soviet Union, in the Soviet people, and it will meet with sincere and human response in our hearts. I want them to hear these words.

And, upon my return home . . . I will describe my impressions of my visit to this country. The visit, of course, was such that it was limited to Washington alone. But yet, even so, we were short of time. I should like to come back when the situation allows. When the process is under way to stimulate such developments, I would like to come back again and come into contact with people, with Americans. That is a sincere desire.

And I would like to wish the American people good achievements, the realization of their hopes. I wish to assure Americans that, in the Soviet people, they have a reliable partner in all that concerns peace, cooperation and common progress for all . . . .

In your speeches you've talked about a process of democratization in the Soviet Union. Now that you've had at least a fleeting encounter with American concepts of democracy, I wonder if you could tell us what you've learned here about that and what specific differences you see between American ideas of democracy and your own ideas of democratization?

I have felt that it is necessary both in our country and in yours to try to fathom what values are those that underlie Soviet society and what are the values . . . which underlie our society. And this problem has been the subject of a serious dialogue with the president in a one-on-one discussion and during the plenary meeting and also in my discussion with the congressional leaders. And we have reached agreement.

Let us take this question concerning democracy, human rights, the humanitarian questions. Let us withdraw them from the plane of political speculations onto the plane of a real study of the values which the American people have in pursuing their choice and what the Soviet Union is seeking, which the people in the Soviet Union who made their choice in 1917. And we reached agreement that we should do this even at the level of the U.S.S.R. Supreme Soviet and the U.S. Congress by organizing meetings, seminars in which we could discuss these matters.

We are prepared to characterize the situation in our country and to express our views on how we see the situation developing in the United States, and the American side would be free . . . to express what it wants to say. That is, I want to put this on a serious footing. I think that we will find that this will be very useful . . . .

On several occasions during the past week, beginning most notably with last Sunday outside the Soviet foreign ministry, your authorities arrested and roughed up nonviolent peaceful demonstrators. Did that have your personal approval, and is that perestroika, is that glasnost?

I can say that, where the laws are broken, then those who have to confirm that . . . legality exists have to take measures. Incidents sometimes occur but only when the law is infringed. And yet . . . nothing really happened, and there was an incident but it petered out.

There had been some hints from some of your colleagues before you arrived here that there could be some progress on offensive weapons without an insistence first on an agreement on defense, that there could be some compromise on strategic defense. It seems as though those are still linked. We're told by administration officials that you reasserted that linkage and insisted on restraints on defense in the private talks. Do you see any way that, between now and a visit to Moscow by the president, there could be a treaty on offense without first reaching agreement on defense? Or is that linkage permanent?

. . . We will work hard to make the president's visit to the Soviet Union culminate in the signing of that treaty. We shall be acting constructively on the basis of the principles which are made public in the document that I referred to . . . .

Diego Cordovez . . . , the United Nations mediator on Afghanistan, . . . would like to begin a new series of negotiations in January or February to help create a political settlement, an interim government in Afghanistan . . . . Do you support those efforts to create an interim government in Afghanistan? And if such an effort were to succeed before the summer of next year, and the United States were willing to end its arms to the {rebels} at that time, would you begin the troop withdrawals . . . next summer. . . ?

I think I tried to elucidate in detail what our approach is but, since that question does arise, let me just say that we would welcome it if there is a new meeting in January, February. And we, for our part, will insofar as possible, since it's a question that concerns the Afghans themselves, but we will endeavor to be helpful in that process.

I believe that, if these two questions are interlinked, all the rest are anyway, the question of troop withdrawals and that of ending arms supplies and the financing . . . then I think we could find some positive results, even in the coming months. We have agreed with the president to continue consulting each other and making a more detailed study of the positions of the sides . . . .

. . . Two questions . . . . Do you think that you were able to change President Reagan's ideas about the Soviet Union in your meetings with him and, in particular, the statement he made six or seven years ago that the Soviet Union is an "evil empire"? And . . . have you changed any of your ideas about the United States based on these three days that you've been here?

I guess that the president's views have changed for the better -- as have mine . . . .

It appears that both you and President Reagan are of the opinion that in this three-day summit you have significantly altered the course of relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. It would appear as well that, in the three days of summitry, that somehow the relationship between you, one to the other, was altered. What changed, and how did it change between you and the president?

Yes, I think the agreements we have made in these past three days will be of importance for the development of relations between our two nations, on condition of course that we remain true to our obligations and agreements. I want to assure the American people and the administration that we shall act responsibly, proceeding all of the arrangements and agreements entered into.

And I want to say that, to respond to the second part of your question, I think we now have more understanding between the president and myself. We now have in our dialogue, it's more businesslike. It's more of a constructive approach, and I will even venture to say that I think we trust each other more . . . .

You said that the Soviet Union was also working in the {space-based missile defense} field --

I never said that.

The question is --

I know what I say.

After your meeting with Mr. Reagan, what will you be instructing your experts to do in this field? Will they speed up their work or slow it down?

I said that we were not addressing ourselves or working on our defensive system. I said that we were engaging in fundamental research which in the very specific areas encompass problems which in the United States are within the limits of SDI {the Strategic Defense Initiative}.

That I said, but I said we were resolutely opposed to SDI. We shall not build up an SDI in our own country, and that is what we are urging the U.S. administration to do. But, if the U.S. administration does not heed our opinion, if it does build up the SDI, it'll be assuming full responsibility because then strategic stability will be undermined, and a new sphere will be opened up in the arms race with unpredictable consequences.

If the Americans have all that much money, let them squander that money away. We will find an answer along other lines. Our response will be asymmetric, which will be 100 or perhaps more times cheaper. That is what I have always said . . . .

. . . You've always said that the important thing is to stop the extension of the arms race into outer space. Has your meeting here this week made that any less likely?

I don't think so. I can confirm that it remains the goal of the Soviet Union to prevent the extension of the arms race into space.