Hints of US-Soviet talks, but no thaw in sight
Moscow — Westerners in Moscow with long experience in Soviet affairs hold out little hope of a quick warm-up in the international atmosphere. They caution against expecting too much from quick meetings should senior American and Soviet officials meet in Belgrade at today's funeral for President Tito, and later in Vienna for the 25th anniversary of Austrian postwar independence.
The issue in Vienna is whether Secretary of State-designate Edmund Muskie will meet veteran Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko during the celebrations there May 15.
US Ambassador to Moscow Thomas J. Watson met Mr. Gromyko in Moskow May 7 to discuss such a meeting. It is said here that Mr. Watson has been urging the Carter administration (which was reluctant to let former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance meet Mr. Gromyko in Vienna) to allow Mr. Muskie to do so.
Reportedly, one US plan would be for Mr. Muskie and Mr. Gromyko to meet briefly, then to set a time and an agenda for a follow-up meeting in four to six weeks. The idea would be to get discussions rolling again between the two superpowers on strategic arms limitation, particularly provisions of the SALT II treaty.
Mr. Watson and others in the administration are said to believe everything possible should be done to revive the dialogue between Moscow and Washington on stragetic arms befofe one side or the other decides to violate provisions of SALT II (still not ratified by the US Senate) and set off another spiral in the arms race.
The Soviets profess interest in new talks on detente. When Soviet Ambassador to Washington Anatoly Dobrynin met Mr. Watson in Washington recently, he reportedly opened an hour-long discussion by asking what could be done to revive discussions.But he did not show any readiness to talk about Soviet concessions.