Superpower Summit To Begin in Malta
MARSAXLOKK BAY, Malta--President bush urged Mikhail S. Gorbachev on the eve of their super-power summit yesterday to help mold "a future free of both tyranny and fear." The Soviet leader concluded a historic Vatican visit with a pledge of new religious freedoms back home.
"Our meeting here off Malta will last two days, but the freedoms that we seek must last for generations," the president said in anticipation of his first summit session with the Soviet leader.
Gorbachev addressed Pope John Paul II as "your Holiness" during their meeting. He said people "have a right to satisfy their spiritual needs," and pledged swift adoption of a new religious law guaranteeing freedom of worship.
Bush was the first to arrive for the two days of shipboard summit talks. But his last-minute summit preparations were interrupted by an attempted coup in the Philippines, which he sought to snuff out by committing U.S. air support to forces loyal to President Corazon Aquino.
Gorbachev arranged an evening arrival for the summit, taking place against a backdrop of stunning change in Eastern Europe that has swept hard-line regimes from power. The two men are also expected to discuss arms control, trade relations and conflicts such as Afghanistan and Nicaragua as well.
Baird Professor of History Richard Pipes, a member of former President Ronald W. Reagan's National Security Council, said he expected the two leaders to announce a date for an agreement on strategic nuclear weapons. Pipes also said Bush might lift some trade restrictions on the Soviet Union.
Adam B. Ulam, director of the Russian Research Center, said the two leaders are also likely to discuss the situation in Germany. Last week, West German leader Helmut Kohl proposed a "federation" between East and West Germany.
Gray clouds, cold weather and choppy seas set the scene for the talks, being conducted aboard U.S. and Soviet warships anchored in the harbor off the coast of this Mediterranean island. Malta's entire 1200-member military and most of its 1000 police were out in force to protect the superpower leaders.
U.S. and Maltese patrol boats circled, and scuba divers checked the waters as Bush landed by helicopter on the American guided-missile cruiser USS Belknap, his command post and the Sunday meeting site for the summit. The summit will open this morning on the Soviet guided missile cruiser Slava.
'An Historic Opportunity'
Beyond promising religious tolerance, Gorbachev said the Kremlin will establish diplomatic ties with the Vatican. He invited the Pope to pay a visit to the Soviet Union--officially an atheist nation--although no date was announced.
During a brief visit to the American aircraft carrier, the USS Forrestal, Bush called Gorbachev "a dynamic new Soviet leader willing... to think anew."
"And we want him to succeed," the president said. "Because we do admire the people in the Soviet Union. And we know that ours is an historic opportunity to foster the peace." Bush expressed hope that "ours can be a future free of both tyranny and fear."
He presented the Forrestal's crew with a piece of the crumbling Berlin Wall as "a symbol of the peace we seek."
He watched a demonstration of warplanes beingcatapulted off the deck and screeching into thesky. A thunderous sonic boom from an F-14 caughthim by surprise, and Bush's knees buckled and heducked. He recovered quickly with a sheepish grinand a funny face for cameras.
The Malta summit is the first superpowermeeting since Gorbachev met then President RonaldReagan in New York last December. Bush attendedthat meeting as vice president.
Bush and Secretary of State James A. Baker IIIwill lead a six-person U.S. delegation, whileGorbachev and Soviet Foreign Minister EduardShevardnadze will lead the eight-person Sovietteam.
Joseph R. Palmore contributed to thereporting of this article.