Baker to meet Soviet counterpart as tensions mount

January 25, 1991|By Mark Matthews | Mark Matthews,Washington Bureau of The Sun Karen Hosler of The Sun's Washington Bureau contributed to this article.

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State James A. Baker III will meet his Soviet counterpart tomorrow at a time of increasing strain between the two countries that threatens to derail plans for a mid-February Moscow summit.

Mr. Baker has not met with Alexander Bessmertnykh, formerly ambassador to the United States, since he replaced Eduard A. Shevardnadze, with whom Mr. Baker had a close working relationship. No meeting with President Bush has been fixed, although some officials consider one likely early next week.

The White House has held out the possibility of postponing the summit because of the Persian Gulf crisis, the Soviet crackdown in the Baltics and continuing technical problems blocking agreement on a treaty to cut long-range nuclear missiles.

During a meeting with GOP leaders in Congress yesterday, President Bush was urged by at least one member not to attend the summit because of the crackdown in the Baltics, said House Minority Leader Robert H. Michel, R-Ill.

Together with a number of other countries, the United States is invoking a human rights mechanism of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe to call the Soviets to account for the use of force in the Baltics.

Weighed against the Baltic crackdown is the Soviet cooperation at the United Nations against Iraq.

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