MOSCOW, March 28, (Reuter): British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher arrived in Moscow today with a message that progress on east west arms control depended on Soviet observance of human rights.

She praised Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, whom she met in Britain in 1984 before he took over the top Kremlin job, for releasing several dissidents from prison.

Speaking to journalists on her plane, she described him as a realist and said, “We don’t do diplomatic meetings, we get down to nitty-gritty. I respect him for it, and he respects me”.

Thatcher, on her first official visit to the country that named her “The Iron Lady” because of her firm views, was greeted at the airport by Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov.

Gorbachev and his wife Raisa alter welcomed in the Kremlin’s ornate St. George’s Hall.

During her five-day visit, the first by a British head of government for 12 years, Thatcher will discuss Soviet and U.S. proposals to remove intermediate nuclear weapons from Europe.

Arms talks in Geneva are bogged down by disagreement over whether short-range missiles should be included, and over verification procedures.

Thatcher, who paid brief visits to Paris and Bonn before her Moscow trip, is expected to voice European worries about Soviet superiority in short-range missiles. Moscow wants to discuss these in separate talks.

She said she was “not strictly” engaged in negotiations in Moscow, adding, ‘They are talks that will influence negotiations in a very big way”.

Article extracted from this publication >>  April 3, 1987