Bush's Not So Grand Plan For Soviet Aid

'Nonsense." "Preposterous." Senior Washington officials have been heaping scorn on a joint Soviet-Harvard University proposal for massive Western aid to support Soviet reforms. Actually, President Bush shares the basic thesis of the document, scheduled to be completed in mid-June: that helping the Soviets shift to a free market and democracy is in the West's strategic interest. But pooh-poohing an ambitious reform-for-aid bargain "makes it politically easier for the President to move on the modest aid package he has in mind," an Administration official confides. Despite a year of Soviet political and economic zigzags, Bush's desire to expand ties with Moscow hasn't abated. Although tortuous talks on nuclear-weapons cuts continue, the main focus from now on will be on economic links. On June 11, the White House announced the first plank in a Soviet aid package of technical assistance, trade benefits, and credits that Bush has been quietly shaping. It provides for $1.5 billion in U. S. guarantees for grain export credits over nine months.

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