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President Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, concluding an otherwise upbeat four-day superpower summit, left the negotiating table without resolving formidable issues of Baltic independence and the military role of a unified Germany.

At the end of their talks Sunday, the two leaders had clearly established what Gor-bachev called "a new phase in strengthening mutual understanding and trust between us."And Bush indicated the two men developed a new rapport during the summit, saying they spoke in the "spirit of candor and openness" that reflected a desire "not just to understand but to build bridges."

But the final day of the summit was not without a surprise, and again it was delivered by the unpredictable Soviet president.

Responding to a question at a nationally televised news conference, Gorbachev stepped into a long-running dispute between the Bush administration and Israel, saying the Kremlin might be forced to curtail the number of Jews allowed to emigrate to Israel if Israel continues to build new settlements in the occupied territories.

Bush had repeated his appeal to Israel to halt the settlements, which Palestinians have protested as setting the stage for a permanent occupation, and said he would "continue to push for peace talks."

Siding with the president, Gorbachev warned Israel that unless it heeds Bush's appeals, Moscow will come under pressure to "consider postponing issuing permits for exit" to Jews.

Shortly after the White House news conference Sunday afternoon, Gorbachev and his wife, Raisa, departed Washington and flew to Minneapolis for a brief stop to meet with business and agricultural leaders.

Later Sunday, the Gorbachevs headed to San Francisco for an overnight stay. Gorbachev scheduled a breakfast session with former President Ronald Reagan and meetings with California business leaders before making the return trip to Moscow.

For results at their second summit, the two leaders could point to solid accomplishments with a series of more than 15 substantial agreements, including a trade accord, a chemical weapons treaty, a forward-looking statement on reduction of nuclear arms and several cultural and exchange pacts.

Despite the "difficult disagreements" between them, the Soviet leader hailed Bush as a man he can do business with and said, "Now we have a good human relationship . . . in a good atmosphere."

Bush, while declining to say whether the two superpowers have made the transition from adversaries to allies, said the relationship has come "a long way from the depths of the Cold War."

More than six hours of White House talks - plus an intimate, informal day at the rustic Camp David presidential retreat - "make it possible for us to speak really of a new phase of cooperation," said Gorba-chev, who announced he has invited Bush to visit the Soviet Union, although no date was announced.

With the Washington summit in the books, Bush and Gorbachev set their sights on completing a conventional forces agreement before the end of this year that the Soviet leader said could be signed at a European summit.

They also are aiming to finish work on a Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which also could be signed at a Moscow summit before the new year.

The two leaders also agreed to hold regular - perhaps annual - summits to give them regular contacts to develop the new superpower relationship in a forum, in Bush's words, "with less formality."

As Gorbachev's black Zil limousine pulled away from the White House for the last time Sunday, Gor-bachev carried with him the trade agreement, still subject to ratification by the Congress, but critically important to Moscow.

Nonetheless, it was apparent there had been little if any progress made toward resolving the conflicts over the military status of a reunified Germany and the Soviet response to Lithuania's bid for independence.

The United States, with the support of Western allies, insists that a reunified Germany be allowed to join NATO with full military status. While the Soviet Union has said that under the Helsinki accords a country has the choice of joining an alliance, there are political obstacles on how it can become a reality.

Secretary of State James Baker departs Monday evening for a European conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he will continue to try to resolve differences with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevard-nadze over the German question.

Baker told NBC's "Meet the Press" program Sunday that one suggestion made at the summit worth exploring "was the possibility that there might be some sort of an agreement between the NATO alliance and the Warsaw Pact."

"That's something that, quite frankly, we have not explored as yet in any detail, at least, with our allies. It was a suggestion that surfaced here," Baker said, adding "it's a matter for us to talk to our allies about."

Gorbachev insisted the German issue is bound up not only with the Kremlin's security concerns but also with the entire European agenda, including cuts in conventional forces and the spread of reform through the now-fractured East bloc.

On Lithuania, Gorbachev repeated his arguments that the Baltic state's bid to break away from Moscow must be resolved through the Soviet legal system. He renewed his jibe that Americans seem to think Bush would have resolved the complex issue "in 24 hours."

For his part, Bush acknowledged that he and Gorbachev still have "some tough issues before us, including the aspirations of the Baltic peoples."

Although there have been hints in the past, Bush refused to link a solution to the Baltic question with the granting of most-favored-nation trade status for the Soviet Union.

Thorny issues aside, Gorbachev and Bush appeared to be pleased with their developing personal relationship.

While Gorbachev was portrayed as in trouble at home - grappling with a cranky economy and fending off political rival Boris Yeltsin, the newly elected president of the vast Soviet republic of Russia - Gorba-chev insisted his bargaining position was not weak.

He displayed a flash of humor when he chided a Soviet correspondent for bringing up his shaky relationship with Yeltsin. "I don't think you have chosen the best place for clarifying our internal problems," he jibed. "But c'est la vie, as they say."