The Carter administration responded yesterday to Soviet Communist Party Chairman Leonid I. Brezhnev's rebuke on the dissident issue by inviting the Russians to debate openly "the principles that guide our respective societies before the court of world opinion."
White House press secretary Jody Powell said the President still feels "constructive negotiations are possible" between the two countries despite Brezhnev's prediction Monday that good relations would be made "unthinkable" by Carter's continued support of Soviet dissidents.
The President, meanwhile, asked Congress to fund 28 more radio transmitters to increase the range of Voice of America and Radio Free Europe. Radio Liberty broadcasts to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. These broadcasts have come under increasing criticism from the Russians in recent months.
Preparations are continuing for Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance's impending talks in Moscow, which begin on Saturday. "We see not reason why this should bee an impediment to discussing other subjects," State Department spokesman Frederick Z. Brown said of the Brezhnev remarks.
In his speech Monday before a national trade union congress, Brezhnev termed Carter's support for dissidents in the Soviet Union as intolerable "interference in our internal affairs."
"Washington's claim to teach others how to live cannot be accepted by any sovereign state . . ." Brezhnev said.
Powell said the White House" . . . did note with interest and, in fact, approval . . . " Breznev's . . . 'statement that the Soviet Union had definite views on the order of things in our society and that they reserve the right to comment of them."
The Carter administration agrees, Powell said. "We do not fear open debate about the principles that guide our respective societies before the court of world opinion . . . We do not object to Soviet comments on differences within our own country."
"But we frankly state," Powell continued," . . . we will not allow this open and healthy debate to stand in the way of our strong publicly expressed desire to negotiate seriously in good faith to reduce the burden of the arms race . . . to reduce the real threat of nuclear destruction that now endangers all the people of the world."
Carter "has made it quite clear that he believes this issue to be important enough . . . to stand alone without relationship to other matters . . ." Powell said.
Sen Cranston (D-Calif.) said the President told congressional leaders during a breakfast meeting that he does not intend to curb his criticisms.
"Some people are concerned every time Brezhnev sneezes," Cranston quoted Carter as saying.
Carter's message to Congress accompanies a report on the government's international broadcasting operations. The report was completed during th elast days of the Ford administration, and was reviewed by Carter's advisers before being sent to Congress.
It says fewer new transmitters would be needed if the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia nand Bulgaria would stop jamming RFE-RL broadcasts, but notes that "at the time of this writing there is no indication that jamming will be halted."
VOA, the official U.S. radio voice in all Eastern European countries and 10 languages of the Soviet Union, has not been jammed since September, 1973. But it is the target of most of the escalated Soviet attacks.
It has regularly reported Carter's statements of human rights, as well as the activites of Soviet dissidents within the Soviet Union. Some of the Tass attacks use language similar to attacks regularly leveled at RFE-RL, which are frequently jammed. They go to five Eastern European countries in 17 languages.
In other White House activities:
Carter said he will nminate John Stetson, president of the A.B. Dick Co. in Chicago, to be Air Force secretary. Stetson, 56, will be granted an exception to White house conflict of interest guidelines, Carter said, in part because his stock in the Mearcantile National bank of Hammond, Ind., and the Lansing Bank of Lansing, III., would be difficult to sell.
An independent trustee will be named to manage the stock, the White House said. Neither bank does any business with the Defense Department, it said.
It was learned that Stuart French will be named under secretary of the Air Force. French is principal assistant to the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs and director of the Law of the Sea task force.