HELSINKI, Finland -- President Reagan said Saturday the United States would like to see the 'positive changes' initiated by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev 'institutionalized' to become lasting features of Soviet society.
Reagan made the remarks in his weekly radio address, broadcast from Helsinki, on the eve of his departure for the Moscow summit meeting.
Discussing the his forthcoming summit talks with Gorbachev, starting Sunday afternoon, Reagan said that the Soviet leader's forthright words about 'glasnost' and 'perestroika,' leading to more openness and economic reform 'have a particularly welcome sound.'
'And since he began his campaign,' Reagan added, 'we can list developments that the free world heartily applauds.'
Among the developments mentioned by the president were the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan, which is now under way, the release of some prisoners of conscience from labor camps, the publication of books like 'Dr. Zhivago' and the distribution of anti-Stalinist movies such as 'Repentance.'
In addition, he cited Gorbachev's promise of a 'measure of religious freedom' to the Soviet people.
'All this is new and good,' Reagan said. But the president added that while there are improvements, 'the basic structure of the system has not changed in the Soviet Union or in Eastern Europe, and there remain significant violations of human rights and freedoms.'
Furthermore, he said unpopular regimes in Asia, Africa and Central America use Soviet arms to oppress their own people and commit aggression against neighboring states.
Reagan also said it is 'difficult to understand' why the Kremlin continues to keep families divided, block marriages with Soviet citizens and bar emigration. He said the U.S. will continue to encourage Soviet reforms and to negotiate arms reductions.
'We would like to see positive changes in the U.S.S.R. institutionalized so that they'll become lasting features of Soviet society,' he said.
'And that's why we're ready to work with the Soviets,' he said.
'To praise and criticize, and work for greater contact, and for change,' he added. 'Because that is the path to lasting peace, greater freedom and a safer world.'