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Relying on Reagan's memory

GENEVA -- Only President Reagan's memory provides a record of what passes between him and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in private, White House spokesman Larry Speakes said today.

'The (official) note-takers are not present during the private meetings, only the interpreters,' Speakes said.

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Note-takers keep records of full plenary sessions of the summit.

For the 'one-on-one' sessions between Reagan and Gorbachev, however -- more than three hours of such private conversations when Speakes talked with reporters -- the only record depends on what Reagan, 74, remembers and passes on to aides, Speakes said.

'Normally, there is a lunch (after the morning sessions) that includes the secretary of state, the foreign policy adviser, the chief of staff and so forth,' Speakes said. 'The president briefs from memory.'

Reporters were incredulous about the procesdure but Speakes insisted it presented no problems.

'I don't think either side has any difficulty about the conversation being recalled for later use,' he said. 'We are very comfortable and confident that what takes place in the private meetings is retained properly for diplomatic, political and historical purposes.'

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