WASHINGTON -- Key Senators warned the Bush administration yesterday not to hasten completion of a strategic arms pact with the Soviet Union for a July summit between President Bush and Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev.
A speeded-up pact would put pressure on treaty negotiators and would result in their "making some mistakes," predicted Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., on NBC's "Meet the Press."
Mr. Nunn, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he would rather see the two leaders schedule the long-delayed Moscow summit "without rushing the negotiators."
Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., agreed that linking progress on the treaty to the timing of the summit might not make for the best possible arms control deal.
"I don't think we ought to try to meet any artificial deadlines," he said on the CBS program "Face the Nation."
The White House hasn't made the signing of a treaty to limit strategic nuclear arms a necessary condition for a Moscow meeting this summer. But U.S. officials are trying to take advantage of what they see as the opportunity to conclude the arms-control pact.
Nearly 90 percent of the issues to be covered by the START treaty have already been settled during the nine years of negotiations. What remains are the difficult technical questions of verification and implementation.
Secretary of State James A. Baker III took a package of Mr. Bush's "new ideas" on these issues with him to Geneva, where he met Friday with Soviet Foreign Minister Alexander A. Bessmertnykh.
Both sides agreed to intensify their efforts on START now that a dispute over the treaty on reducing conventional forces in Europe has been resolved. The White House is waiting for a Soviet response.
Prospects are considered dim for a Moscow summit to be held in late June even with a START treaty. U.S. officials are now aiming for a date in early July, before a mid-month summit of industrialized nations in London, where economic assistance to the Soviets is expected to be a major topic.