GENEVA, Switzerland -- U.S. and Soviet negotiators today began separate sessions at parallel talks on reducing strategic long-range nuclear weapons and smaller medium-range weapons based in Europe.
Western diplomats said the two negotiations will likely be fused at some point because Soviet nuclear missiles and bombers aimed at the United States also could be used against western Europe.
Delegates to the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks, covering the big nuclear weapons systems each superpower has aimed at the other, met for 2 hours and 30 minutes at the Soviet mission.
It was the fourth START session since those negotiations began June 30.
At U.S. mission offices, different teams met for 2 hours and 35 minutes in their 38th session at the Intermediate Nuclear Forces talks.
The INF negotiations, centering on U.S. and Soviet medium-range nuclear weapons based in Europe, began last Nov. 30.
Soviet Defense Minister Dmitri F. Ustinov accuses Washington of blocking progress at the INF talks so it can proceed in late 1983 with deployment of 572 Pershing and Cruise missiles in Europe.
Ustinov, in an article Monday in the Communist Party newspaper Pravda, again rejected President Reagan's offer to cancel deployment of those missiles if Moscow dismantles its more than 200 triple-warhead SS20 rockets already targeted against west European NATO allies.
This 'zero option,' Ustinov said, is intended to force 'unilateral disarmament' on the Soviet Union.
The reduction by one-third in each side's number of nuclear warheads with only half of them being land-based proposed at START negotiations also has been rejected by Moscow, which claims it would be disadvantaged because the Soviet Union has more land-based missiles than the United States and fewer missiles on submarines.
The two sets of negotiations probably will recess in late August for about two months.