Granted, Richard Nixon has a vested interest in defending the policy of East-West detente which he launched while in office. But that is no reason not to weigh thoughtfully his recent comments on the subject in the New York Times. As a former United States President with a tough-minded view of the communist world and vast experience in dealing with the Russians, his views are of more than passing interest.
What particularly deserves the attention of the present incumbent is Mr. Nixon's suggestion that the United States and the Soviet Union should hold annual summit meetings. In his opinion, this enhances the chances for reaching agreements because it puts pressure on lower-level officials to come up with compromises before the high-level meetings take place. Even if nothing of importance is agreed to, however, such regular get-togethers are deemed useful for two reasons: ''First, when the leaders of the two major powers know each other, the possibility of war by miscalculation is reduced. And second, the very fact that a summit is approaching tends to inhibit the Soviet Union from engaging in adventurous practices beforehand.''
In today's world of nuclear bombs and global tensions, it does seem strange that the leaders of the superpowers are not even acquainted. The idea of periodic meetings is worth pursuing.