President Carter said yesterday that Soviet attempts to make him "kind of a scapegoat" of criticism for his championship of human rights are "a misplaced aim."
At his press conference the President started out to accentuate the positive side of current American-Soviet attempts to reduce tension. He said that "in generals we are moving in the right direction," citing U.S. Soviet talks that began here yesterday about a total ban on nuclear test explosions, and other discussions between the two nations.
But the President also responded sternly to unusual personal attacks in the Soviet press in recent days. They have placed Carter in the camp of "enemies of detente" who seek "a confrontation" at the 35-nation conference that opens Wednesday in Belgrade, to prepare a review of the Helsinki accord of 1975, which included standards for human rights.
Carter reiterated that his administration's commitment to human rights is global, and does not single out the Soviet Union. He said, pointedly, "I have never made the first comment that personally criticized General Secretary Brezhnev" (Soviet Communist Party Leader Leonid I. Brezhnev).
". . . I think that the Soviets' reaction against me personally on the human rights issue is a misplaced aim," Carter said. "I have no hatred for the Soviet people and I believe that the pressure of world opinion might be making itself felt on them and perhaps I am kind of a scapegoat for that adverse reaction on their part."
"But I feel very deeply," he repeated, "that we ought to pursue agressively this commitment and I have no second thoughts or hesitation about it."
This two-track position of the Carter administration on its approach to East-West detente was underscored by the new exploratory discussions about a comprehensive nuclear test ban, and a protest delivered to the Soviet embassy by telephone in late afternoon.
The protest was over the three-hour detention in Moscow last Saturday of Robert C. Toth, 48, correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, accused of accepting state secrets from a Soviet scientist, Toth said he was seized by Soviet police moments after a Soviet scientist handed him a paper on Parapsychology, the study of mental telepathy and extrasensory perceptions.
State Department spokesman Hodding Carter III said Toth's detention is seen as part of a continuing campaign "to discredit and harass American correspondents and inhibit their contacts with Soviet citizens."
In recent months, he said, "the Soviet governments has repeatedly made false charges in the Soviet press that various American correspondents have been involved in subversive activities."
This is inconsistent, the spokesman said, with the Helsinki accord's provisions for freer flow of information.
The President, in his remarks, said attention that focuses on differences between the United States and the Soviet Union overshadows constructive discussions.
He gave, as examples, the new talks on a comprehensive nuclear test ban and the exploratory talks that begin next week on a Carter proposal for demilitarization on the Indian Ocean.
Carter again yesterday came to the defense of his controversial U.N. ambassador, Andrew Young - but this time with his own disclaimer about Young's use of the term "racisi" in referring to former Presidents Nixon and Ford.
Young later said he "didn't mean anything derogatory about their personal lives" in his Nixon-Ford reference in a Playboy magazine interview. White House press secretary Jody Powell last week said the President disagreed with Young's characterization of his predecessors.
Carter said yesterday that in almost every instance "where Andy has said something that was criticized," a reading of the full text of his remarks shows "there is no criticism involved." But the President said "his use of the word 'racism' has clouded the issue and haand has brought perhaps undeserved criticism on himself."