WASHINGTON -- President Bush, welcoming Soviet Defense Minister Dmitri Yazov on an unprecedented visit to the White House, said Tuesday that relations between the superpowers 'are moving in the direction we want.'
Bush commented during an Oval Office photo session with the Kremlin's top military official, who is on a six-day trip as the first Soviet defense chief ever to visit America.
Already during his stay, Yazov has provided new details about announced Soviet reductions of tanks and troops in Eastern Europe, according to U.S.officials.
'We have got some problems still that we can talk about,' the president told his guest, 'but generally speaking, we feel things are moving in the direction we want -- and certainly from the Soviet standpoint.'
Bush asked Yazov to reiterate to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev the U.S. view that last month's talks between Secretary of State James Baker and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze were 'fruitful.'
'I think it is our effort now to build on these fruitful talks,' Bush continued. 'So we are satisfied.'
White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater later said Bush and Yazov discussed arms control and U.S.-Soviet security issues in a 10-minute meeting. They were joined by Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Soviet Ambassador Yuri Dubinin, among others.
'The president expressed his desire to conclude agreements on conventional forces in Europe and on chemical weapons as soon as possible and his hopes for progress in (a Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty),' Fitzwater said.
'General Yazov discussed Soviet views for the problems facing the two sides in arms control,' he told reporters. 'The president reiterated his support for perestroika' -- Gorbachev's economic reform - 'and asked that the general relay his best wishes for success to President Gorbachev.'
Earlier Tuesday, Yazov toured the Civil War battlefield at Gettysburg, Pa., and then returned to Washington to deliver a private speech to the National Defense University at Fort McNair.
He leaves Wednesday to tour the Navy base at San Diego and the Marine Corps training post at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Thursday he travels to Luke Air Force Base near Phoenix before flying to North Carolina to see Fort Bragg.
Yazov is to return to Washington Friday for more talks and to host a reception for U.S. officials and then leave for Moscow Friday night.
The trip reciprocates for Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci's visit to the Soviet Union in August 1988, and U.S. officials said no major agreements or announcements were expected to come from Yazov's meetings. He spent all day Monday with Cheney at the Pentagon.