Soviet official rules out breakthrough in US relations, but not at Geneva talks

A prominent Soviet official says he sees no early prospect for a breakthrough in superpower relations, but that overall strains need not rule out eventual compromise at the arms-control table.

He said if the Americans were prepared to make the first move, he felt agreement would be possible at the stalled Geneva talks on strategic and European nuclear forces.

He echoed a recent statement by new party leader Yuri Andropov that Moscow would like to revive superpower detente - but would not make ''preliminary concessions'' in search of a thaw in US ties.

The official suggested one ''sign'' Moscow would like to see from Washington would be a departure from what he called a Reagan administration tendency to try to dictate Soviet foreign policy, particularly in areas close to Soviet borders.

''The US must begin to understand and respect our interests,'' said the official, in a conversation with the Monitor. ''We do this regarding the Americans. . . . We do not poke into the Persian Gulf or Central America.''

But the official added that the overall problems in the superpower relationship need not exclude progress on key issues like arms control: ''In my view, there are possibilities for compromise in the arms talks - prospects for changes in the positions of both sides.'' He added he felt there was ''still a good while to go'' before such movement was likely.

On the Geneva talks over European nuclear missile forces, he argued that a Reagan administration softening of its insistence on a ''zero option'' would open up prospects for change in the Soviets' stand. The zero option envisages removal of the more than 300 SS-20 nuclear missiles deployed by the Soviets within range of Western Europe in the past few years, in return for cancellation of Western plans to site new US rockets in Europe starting late next year.

Concerning China, the official foresaw ''good prospects'' for eventual normalization of relations between Moscow and Peking. He said, substantively, that this still would require ''difficult talks.''

''But the atmosphere [of relations] has abruptly changed. There is, I think, a will on both sides to resolve the problems, and a realization of the difficulties involved,'' he said.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.