London defers to 7 on summit visit for Soviet leader

May 23, 1991|By Gilbert A. Lewthwaite | Gilbert A. Lewthwaite,London Bureau of The Sun

LONDON GZB — LONDON -- British officials said yesterday that a response to Soviet interest in having President Mikhail S. Gorbachev invited to July's economic summit here would have to come jointly from the Group of Seven industrial nations.

They suggested it was too early for a formal decision on the Soviet leader's attendance at the meeting of the West's richest nations.

More time was needed to assess the Kremlin's commitment to economic reforms and their success, said an aide to Prime Minister John Major.

"We should wait until much nearer the time," said the aide, adding that Britain, as host to the summit, which opens July 15, had received no formal request for an invitation to be sent to Mr. Gorbachev.

Officials preparing the summit agenda were discussing the idea but were not ready to make a decision, he said.

The aide noted that President Bush had already dismissed the idea as "a non-starter," and he said that without U.S. approval, no invitation to the Soviet leader could be issued.

Mr. Bush, however, expressed new receptiveness yesterday to the idea of Soviet participation.

Mr. Gorbachev's spokesman said Tuesday that the Soviet leader would like to attend the summit to appeal directly for Western aid to bolster the economic reform program he has agreed upon with Russian leader Boris N. Yeltsin.

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