Secretary of State James Baker, heading to Moscow on Monday, will propose a starting date for the next round of strategic arms talks with the Soviet Union, a State Department official said.
The official, briefing reporters on the trip, said Baker is expected to meet Thursday with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, in addition to several meetings with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze.Earlier this week, Baker laid out in general terms the U.S. approach to the Soviet Union, saying the United States wanted to move beyond the traditional areas of arms control and human rights to challenge the Soviets to come up with action to match the rhetoric of Gorbachev's "new thinking."
The State Department official, who asked not to be identified, said the U.S. agenda for the Moscow meeting would emphasize other subjects in addition to arms control and human rights. They are:
-Transnational affairs involving such cross-border problems as environmental control, drug trafficking and counterterrorism.
-A wider discussion of regional issues, including the Middle East, southern Africa and Korea.
-The control of non-nuclear weapons such as missiles and chemical warfare, which possibly will be the newest instruments of destruction in the next regional wars in the Middle East and elsewhere.
The senior official said Baker will propose an early resumption of the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks in Geneva, which were suspended last summer.
The nominated U.S. negotiator in those Geneva talks, former Utahn Richard Burt, went before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Friday for his confirmation hearing.
The Moscow meeting is expected to lay the groundwork for a U.S.-Soviet summit, but the senior official insisted that such a meeting must be well-prepared and suggested there may not be a summit date set in Baker's Moscow talks.
"There are conditions which didn't exist before," the official said.
Baker will leave the United States Monday for Helsinki, Finland, where he will rest before heading to Moscow on Wednesday.
He will fly to Brussels Thursday and brief NATO foreign ministers on his talks with Gorbachev and Shevardnadze Friday before returning to the United States.