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Shultz Optimistic That Progress on Human Rights Can Be Made in His Talks with Soviet Foreign Ministe

September 16, 1987
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Secretary of State George Shultz indicated Tuesday that he believes some progress on human rights can be made during his three days of talks with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze.

“I think that its possible that we’ll make some progress if both sides will think it’s in their interest,” Shultz told reporters after his three hours of talks with Shevardnadze at the State Department followed by two hours at the White House in which President Reagan participated. “I am rather encouraged.”

State Department spokesman Charles Redman said human rights was the main topic discussed in the opening session, although all issues were discussed.

Shultz called the discussion on human rights “interesting,” but he did not go into details. He did note that he and Shevardnadze continued the talks begun by American and Soviet officials in Moscow two weeks ago on the “desirability of a more systematic way of examining the various issues” dealing with human rights. He said a working committee was set up to discuss the issue during the three days of talks.


While Shevardnadze was in the White House, more than 100 persons participated in a rally, organized by the National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ), in a park one block from the State Department.

This is the “vanguard” of the thousands who will come to Washington for “Summit Mobilization Day,” when the expected summit is held here later this year between Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, declared Jacqueline Levine, co-chairperson of the mobilization.

Shultz said Tuesday that a summit had not yet been discussed, but reiterated his position that it would be held only if an arms control treaty is agreed upon. Arms control is the major topic of the Shultz-Shevardnadze talks.

Speakers at the rally stood before a banner containing a quotation from President Kennedy: “And is not peace a matter of human rights?” Levine and others stressed while more Jews have been allowed to leave, emigration restrictions have become tougher.

Three former refuseniks participated in the rally — Leonid Slepak, Daniel Peysen and Vladimir Magarik, whose son, Alexei Magarik, was released from a Soviet prison camp just Monday.

Jews in the USSR “are unable to live as Jews and at the same time not permitted to leave,” Peysen said.

NCSJ chairman Morris Abram said that the NCSJ has been asked how many Jews it wanted to see emigrate from the USSR. “We would like to see leave the Soviet Union for their homeland in Israel everyone of Jewish nationality who they would like to have sent to Birobidjan as their false homeland,” he said. This was in reference to the republic that was set up for Jews by Stalin in the 1930s.

The rally ended with the lighting of a “freedom torch” and the presentation of a “letter of redress” to the State Department for Shevardnadze, which noted that “glasnost” is still “an aspiration, not a reality” for Soviet Jews.

The letter demanded exit visas immediately for those waiting ten or more years and for all former prisoners of conscience; exit visas within a year for those waiting five to ten years; that those refused visas on “security” grounds be allowed to leave no more than five years after leaving a classified job; and exit visas for all other applicants, with flights going directly to Israel.

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