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Churchill's `jaw-jawing' is high on US agenda this week. Briton's dictum that negotiations are better than war strikes home on trade issues as well as US-Soviet relations

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Churchill's dictum that ``jaw-jaw is better than war-war'' could usefully be brought down from the attic and de-mothballed. It applies to the Reagan-Gorbachev summit, less than two months off. It applies even more precisely to the trade wars that seem to be awaiting only some fast-draw move in Congress to get started.

No one could ever doubt Churchill's credentials. The rotund warrior made a career of observing, reporting, planning, warning of, and masterminding warfare. But he still preferred negotiation -- jaw-jawing -- to war.

This week has started well on both the trade front and the superpower summit front.

On trade, the Reagan administration held a surprise meeting with its four main Western economic partners-rivals Sunday in New York to lower the value of the dollar on foreign exchange markets and thus begin to close the United States' yawning trade gap.

On the summit, President Reagan made it clear that, despite recent tough talk, he expected to have a fruitful meeting with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze on Friday.

After weeks of escalating protectionist talk in Congress, Mr. Reagan has spoken out more bluntly than ever against the protectionist bills on Capitol Hill. On Sunday, he sent Treasury Secretary James A. Baker III (buttressed by the formidable Fed chairman, Paul A. Volcker) to New York to try to jawbone the dollar into further decline. Mr. Baker and Mr. Volcker met with their opposite numbers from the four other leading free-market countries in an effort to reverse the growing US trade deficit. They soug ht to create a united front that would help to keep downward pressure on the dollar.


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