WASHINGTON -- President Bush, extending a helping hand to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev with an eye toward their upcoming summit, has waived key trade restrictions against the Soviet Union for the second straight year.
The move yesterday kept Moscow eligible for U.S. government credit guarantees that would allow the Kremlin to buy American grain and farm products.
Bush was expected to grant the Soviet Union at least $1 billion in U.S. grain credit guarantees over the next few weeks, but he remains opposed to any large-scale direct financial aid for Moscow, administration officials said.
The president instead was leaning toward granting the Soviet Union most-favored-nation trade status as well as observer status at international lending agencies such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and U.S. technical assistance to bolster Soviet economic change, the officials said.
Bush's decision to extend his waiver of trade restrictions against the Soviets for a second 12-month period came as both nations intensified their planning for a summit meeting in Moscow in late June or early July and stepped up efforts to conclude a long-range nuclear weapons reduction treaty by then.
The president's gesture of economic help toward Gorbachev is aimed at extracting fundamental Soviet economic reforms and concessions from Moscow in the last stages of negotiations on the strategic nuclear weapons treaty, known as START, that Bush wants to sign at a Moscow summit, officials said.