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The United States rejected a Soviet proposal Friday to begin fall negotiations on reducing superpower short-range nuclear missiles.

White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater declared that the administration agrees with the position taken by NATO and believes such talks should be held off until after an agreement is reached on reducing conventional forces in Europe.The Soviet Union proposed Friday that negotiations be held in the fall to eliminate all short-range nuclear weapons from Europe, said NATO officials in Brussels, Belgium. Short-range nuclear missiles are those with ranges of less than 300 miles.

Fitzwater noted President Bush has said the short-range nuclear forces talks, or SNF, should begin after the conclusion of a conventional forces accord, known as CFE.

At the same time, Fitzwater said "the Soviet offer of unilateral cuts . . . would be welcome since it would parallel NATO's actions."

"NATO has significantly and unilaterally reduced its nuclear forces over the past decade," he said. Fitzwater also pointed out that the United States is canceling the next generation Lance missile.