WASHINGTON -- President Bush has dropped his previous objection to a meeting between Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev and leaders of the seven major industrialized democracies at next month's economic summit in London, a Bush administration official said yesterday.
Mr. Bush's decision clears the way for the unprecedented meeting, at which the Soviet leader is expected to plead for extensive Western as
sistance to shore up his country's crumbling economy and to advance his embryonic economic reform program.
Four of the seven countries have publicly endorsed Mr. Gorbachev's bid to meet with the summit partners, beginning with Canada and Italy two weeks ago. They were joined by German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and French President Francois Mitterrand, who endorsed the idea during a Franco-German summit meeting in northern France last week.
Although the Soviet leader is unlikely to participate in the three days of actual summit deliberations, the administration has suggested that he could confer with the participants in a special session held after the official meeting concludes July 17.