WASHINGTON -- Vice President George Bush said Saturday President Reagan's tough stance with Moscow has proved to the Soviets 'they're not up against a pushover' and increased chances for an arms agreement.
'I believe that Ronald Reagan is better positioned than any president in the nuclear age to achieve a significant arms reduction,' said Bush, despite the Soviet departure from both intermediate-range and long-range nuclear weapons talks.
Bush, interviewed on Cable News Network's 'Evans and Novak' show, said 'I can't give you a date' when Soviet negotiators might return to arms talks with the United States, but 'I think they're going to see that political capital is flowing away from them, and they will come back.'
'They see the (NATO) alliance together, they see the United States determined to rebuild its defenses. They see a determined president,' he said.
Reagan is scheduled to give a broadcast address Monday on U.S.-Soviet relations and it is expected to be conciliatory in comparison to his past statements. Bush said it would underline Reagan's commitment to arms reduction.
Bush also defended Reagan's policies concerning the Middle East, chiding Congress for talk of setting a limit on U.S. participation in the multinational peace-keeping force in Lebanon.
'If the Syrians, for example, think that the Congress of the United States is going to say they've got to be out of there in 30 days, the Syrians will do nothing, and they should be doing something to facilitate the removal of all forces, including their own,' Bush said.
'We see (the Syrians) as dragging their feet,' he added.
Presidential candidate Jesse Jackson's trip to Syria, which gained the freedom of downed U.S. Navy flier Robert Goodman, was at least partly political, said Bush.
'But ... the fact is he went over there, Goodman came back with him, and a chance for the president to have like a new beginning with (Syrian President) Assad was there,' he added. 'And that we salute him for.'