Secretary of State Cyrus Vance was given a lengthy briefing today by French Foreign Minister Louis de Guiringaud on the increasingly grim outlook for U.S.-Soviet relations that singnaled here during the visit of Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev.
Vance arrived in Paris early this morning from Washington to attend the annual two-day ministerial meeting of the 23-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
But the French account of the three days of blunt and disturbing exchanges with Brezhnev that ended Wednesday took immediate precedent.
Indications from the visit are that U.S.-Soviet relations are plunging rapidly into a period of prolonged tension, with Brezhnev, newly elevated to the Soviet presidency and in greater domination of affairs, actively directing a hard-line Soviet reaction to the Carter administration's outspoken stand on human rights.
Soon after his arrival, Vance went to the Quai d'Orsay for breakfast with de Guiringuad. They were joined by British Foreign Secretary David Owen and West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher. The four talked for more than two hours.
Although no details of the breakfast meeting were released, President Valery Giscard d'Estaing has openly referred to France's having "role to play" in relations between the two superpowers Vance is also to see Giscard Friday before returning to Washington.
Speaking to the French Press about the Brezhnev visit and Soviet-U.S. relations, Giscard hinted that he would give Vance a message for Carter.
"A role of mediator, No." the French President said. "A role of partricipant, yes, owing to the circumstances that since the new administration came into office there has been no personal contact between Mr. Brezhnev and Mr. Carter whereas I have met them successively."
Brezhnev, the French revealed, used a good part of a final 40-minute talk with Giscard Wednesday to assail the U.S. position in negotiations for a new SALT agreement.
The second major theme the Soviet leader developed here, both in private and in his only public speech, was that a new arms race is gaining acceleration and the United States is responsible. The French expect this to become an increasing theme of Soviet propaganda in the months ahead.
The third major theme to emerge from the Brezhnev visit is that the Carter administration is out to wage "ideological warfare" against the Soviet Union on the human-rights question, and that this is threatening to ture detente into some new form of cold war.
Although these positions have been heard from Moscow in various forms in recent months, the French are struck by the fact that they must now be taken as Brezhnev's own policy rather than just some down-the-line tactical or propaganda positions of the Soviets.
The Associated Press reported from Paris that Vance and Owen had agreed on a joint U.S.-British effort next month to revive negotiations for bringing about black-majority rule in Rhodesia.
The two authorized a group headed by Stephen Low, U.S. ambassador to Zambia, and British envoy John Graham to return to the area. Low and Graham are to meet July 6 in Lusaka, capital of Zambia, with Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe, leaders of the groups fighting the white-minority government in Rhodesia.