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Chernenko's criticism of US meets a calm responseSkip to next paragraph
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The White House welcomed Soviet leader Konstantin Chernenko's call for a ban on chemical weapons, but said his suggestion of a nuclear arms freeze would ''reward a massive Soviet buildup in recent years.''
White House spokesman Larry Speakes said the new Soviet Communist Party leader's address Friday dealt mainly with Soviet domestic issues while repeating Moscow's standard attitude toward the United States.
''There is no reason to change our opinion that there is a reasonable opportunity for a dialogue,'' Mr. Speakes said.
In his first major address since assuming the Soviet leadership, Chernenko accused Washington of seeking world domination and called on President Reagan to match his conciliatory words with deeds.
Chernenko spoke at a Kremlin rally to mark his candidacy in elections yesterday to the Supreme Soviet (parliament). (The outcome was predetermined, because the seats sought by Chernenko and other candidates were uncontested.) He said that the past few years had seen a dramatic intensification of aggressive US policies.
''(It is) a policy of blatant militarism, claims to world dominance, resistance to progress, and violations of the rights and freedoms of the peoples ,'' he said. ''These include the invasion of Lebanon, the occupation of Grenada, the undeclared war against Nicaragua.''
Chernenko accused Washington of ''turning Western Europe into a launching site for US missiles targeted at the USSR and its allies.''
He repeated Kremlin charges that Washington had sabotaged the Geneva talks on intermediate-range and strategic nuclear missiles.
Chernenko, who stumbled repeatedly over his text during his 50-minute speech, said his talks with foreign leaders after the late President Yuri Andropov's funeral last month had shown there was a universal desire for peace.
''On the question of peace, the United States has many possibilities to prove its love of peace by actions,'' he said.