WASHINGTON (Sep. 23)
Natan Sharansky emerged from a meeting with President Reagan at the White House Wednesday reassured about the Administration’s support for Soviet Jewry, but concerned about what he considers the “complacency” of the American public.
“We cannot expect for them (the Administration) to be more tough on this issue than the American public,” he stressed to reporters.
Sharansky, accompanied by his wife, Avital, met with the President at the conclusion of a speaking tour in the United States and Canada aimed at convincing the Jewish community that the struggle was not over because a few ” big names” had been allowed to emigrate from the USSR.
He said he found it was easy to reach the Jewish community and plans to return a few weeks before the expected summit between Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Jews plan a massive rally in Washington when the summit is held.
Sharansky said that Reagan told him that he discussed the human rights issue when he met with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze last week and that the issue was stressed by Secretary of State George Shultz in his discussions with Shevardnadze. But the President said that while the Soviets are now willing to talk about human rights, there is no basic change in their policy. Sharansky said that Reagan stressed that the United States will not be “satisfied” just by gestures, but wants “real changes in human rights, real changes in Jewish emigration.”
The former refusenik expressed concern that there is “euphoria” in the U.S. over the Shultz-Shevardnadze meeting and the possibility of an arms agreement and the upcoming summit.