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Two leaders

LEADERSHIP has its parts: judgment, long-range planning, picking good teams, delegation of authority ... and action. The world saw all these factors in the Washington superpower summit this week - and especially action. When one cuts through all the personal hype, the theater of caviar and protocol, chatter about ``good vibes,'' this is clear: The two superpower leaders, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, met to do business. In this they succeeded.

That they talked frankly and heartily, and on the issues that now most divide them - nuclear arms, human rights, Afghanistan - should reassure those who fear that world events are on a self-determined track, governed by fear and rivalry and beyond the intervention of designated leaders.

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Now, Mikhail Gorbachev still does not really understand the United States. Neither does Ronald Reagan have a sudden insight into the Slavic soul. The two men had a near-disastrous summit meeting a year ago in Reykjavik, when the other aspects of preparation failed them and they appeared possessed to improvise a new world nuclear order on the spot.

Still, some things must be done ``on the spot.'' By engaging American congressional and intellectual leaders in open exchange, Mr. Gorbachev did a lot to assist passage of the midrange missile treaty he had signed with the President. He showed himself to be a man of energy, high spirit, humor, and strength. The impression of having held his own in Washington should help secure his position back in Moscow, as he labors to lift his country out of a third-world economic status.

And Ronald Reagan showed that considerable power inheres in the American presidency even at a late stage of the political cycle, especially in foreign affairs. Defying lame-duck predictions, he is moving toward the political center. This is causing dismay among his former right-wing allies. But Mr. Reagan must consider his obligation to leave office with the world in better shape than he found it, even if he must move on from his career role as an anti-Soviet warrior.

We do not yet know how Gorbachev's efforts to transform his society will go, how the Soviet exit from Afghanistan will play out, or what must take place before agreement can be reached on halving the superpowers' long-range missile forces - the next arms control goal.

Still, the two leaders deserve praise for seizing the moment to advance world peace.

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