News In Brief
President Reagan said yesterday he would deploy his ``star wars'' missile shield unilaterally if he could not get other world leaders to agree on a system to defend against nuclear attack. Mr. Reagan said his comments last week to Soviet journalists, in which he appeared to make deployment of a star-wars system contingent on dismantling offensive weapons, were misinterpreted.
In a wide-ranging interview yesterday with correspondents of Western news agencies, the President also said:
He believes it is possible the Soviets orchestrated three recent incidents in which Soviet citizens including Vitaly Yurchenko, tried to defect to the US, then said they wanted to return home.
There is ``every indication'' that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev is ``a reasonable man''; that gives Reagan hope he can convince the Communist Party chief at their summit meeting that the US is not expansionist.
He welcomes word from Moscow that Yelena Bonner, wife of Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov, will be permitted to leave the country for medical treatment, saying that an exit visa is ``long overdue.'' But he said that won't prevent the US from raising human rights at the summit.
He would not comment when asked if the US wanted to overthrow Libyan leader Muammar Qadaffi. In an about-face on the issue of his Strategic Defense Initiative, Reagan said that ``if and when we finally achieve our goal, and that is a weapon that is effective against incoming missiles . . . then, rather than add to the distrust in the world and appear to be seeking the potential for a first strike by rushing to implement, my concept has always been that we sit down with the other nuclear powers, our allies and our adversaries, and see if we cannot use that weapon to bring about . . . the elimination of nuclear weapons.''
If the summit failed to gain an agreement for mutual use of the defensive system, he added, ``we would go ahead with deployment.''
US arms officials see give in superpowers' positions
Chief US arms control negotiator Max H. Kampelman said yesterday he saw ``some narrowing'' of the gap between US and Soviet positions at the Geneva talks as a result of both sides' recent proposals. Speaking just one day before the end of the third round of talks -- the final round before the US-Soviet summit -- Mr. Kampelman characterized the mood of the talks as ``serious and constructive.''
In Brussels, chief US arms control adviser Paul H. Nitze said the Soviet Union has formally proposed an agreement limiting US and Soviet medium-range nuclear weapons.
Mr. Nitze said the Soviets were willing to consider such an agreement separately from the two other arms control issues being negotiated in Geneva: long-range nuclear missiles and space weapons.
At a news conference at NATO headquarters, Nitze said this was an important departure from past Soviet policy, which had insisted that any US-Soviet agreement in Geneva cover all three issues.
Marcos says he'll select his January running mate
President Ferdinand E. Marcos said yesterday he will select a running mate for January's special election who could govern well ``if anything happens to the President.'' His wife Imelda denied speculation she would be his running mate. He said he will ask the ruling New Society Movement to let him make the choice when it holds a special meeting tomorrow to discuss the election he has pledged to hold Jan. 17.
Government offices in Bogot'a invaded by band of gunmen
Attackers armed with submachine guns invaded the Justice Ministry Building in downtown Bogot'a yesterday and were locked in a battle with police forces, officials trapped in the gunfire reported. Unconfirmed reports said the assailants belong to the leftist M-19 guerrilla group and intended to take magistrates hostage.
The attack came just a day after nine bombs exploded across this South American capital, knocking out electricity and causing other damage, but no injuries. It was not clear whether yesterday's violence was linked to Tuesday's bombings, which were apparently the work of leftist guerrillas.
Pentagon picks the French for communications system
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's strenuous lobbying efforts to secure the most lucrative US defense contract ever given out to foreign license have been of no avail. The cost-conscious Pentagon has decided in favor of a battle communications system made by Thomson-CSF, a French company. The French system, called Rita, is priced at $4.3 billion. The bid from Britain's Plessey company was $7.4 billion.
While the British system had never been used in the field, the French note that Rita has been deployed by both the French and Belgian Armies since 1983. The French add that their project was technologically more advanced -- and cheaper.
The contract is crucial for the French. Though much of the work is to be done in the US, officials at Thomson-CSF estimated that 4,000 jobs would be created.
Helms says OK on US envoy to China tied to Reagan vow
Sen. Jesse Helms says that by delaying Senate confirmation of Winston Lord as new US ambassador to China, he wrested a pledge from President Reagan that no US funds will be used to finance or encourage abortions overseas. Hours after what Mr. Helms described as a lengthy conversation with the President at the White House Tuesday, the North Carolina Republican went to the Senate floor to claim victory and permitted a roll call vote that confirmed the veteran diplomat.
Philadelphia mayor takes blame for MOVE fiasco
Mayor W. Wilson Goode, recalled by an investigating commission to clarify contradictions about the MOVE confrontation, said yesterday he was responsible for the tragedy, because ``the buck stops with me.'' The mayor, when he first testified nearly a month ago, said he was not aware that police planned to drop a bomb on the radical group's headquarters from a helicopter May 13. He also said he was not aware explosives were part of the plan to break into the home from adjoining houses.
Other city officials disputed his testimony, saying he was fully informed.
US told to free $11.5 million in regional-agency refugee aid
The Reagan administration must release $11.5 million in refugee assistance to state and county agencies, a federal judge ruled Tuesday. US District Judge Robert P. Aguilar issued a permanent injunction ordering the government to take the necessary steps to ensure that the money be released to the Refugee Targeted Assistance Program.
The dispute arose when the government argued that $77.5 million was available this year. Congressional leaders said the total package should have been $89 million.
Spencer W. Kimball, longtime Mormon leader
Spencer W. Kimball, who passed on Tuesday night, was president and prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) since 1973. He administered the most significant changes since pioneer days in the church when he allowed blacks to hold the Mormon priesthood, retired elderly church leaders, and added the first non-Americans to the modern church hierarchy.