President Bush said Friday "we want to be helpful" in repairing the crisis-ridden Soviet economy and said he was impressed by Mikhail S. Gorbachev's blueprint for transforming his country into a free-market system.
Bush reserved judgment on Soviet pleas for billions of dollars in Western aid but, after receiving Gorbachev's special envoy, said "I'm feeling more positive on a wide array of specific questions." Still, he declined to say whether he favored accommodating Gorbachev's desire to address the July summit in London of the industrial democracies.Soviet officials who met with Bush said later that they expect him to ease longtime trade restrictions on Moscow and perhaps approve $1.5 billion in credit guarantees allowing the Soviets to buy more U.S. grain.
"The move is in the right direction," declared Yevgeny Primakov, Gorbachev's special envoy. He met with Bush after spending 71/2 hours this week explaining Gorbachev's economic reform program to senior administration officials and representatives of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
"I liked what I heard and we have some decisions ahead of us, and I'm not going to prejudge those decisions," Bush told reporters during a brief appearance in the Rose Garden. He held 45 minutes of talks with Primakov and other Soviet officials in the Oval Office and then invited Primakov back for a private luncheon.