Soviet press commentators rebuked President Carter today for failing during his foreign policy speech in Atlanta Tuesday to condemn China for invading Vietnam and said Carter was attempting to justify China's aggression.
In a dispatch from Washington carried on Soviet television, Tass, the official press agency, said of the president's speech:
"There was no condemnation of China and an attempt is being made to portray the invasion of Chinese troops... across the Vietnamese border 'as the result of events occurring in Cambodia.'
"The president's attempt to link the question of China's invasion with the internal events of Cambodia is nothing other than an attempt virtually to justify the Chinese aggression. In this very way, Washington is encouraging China toward a further intensification of its hostile actions against the Vietnamese."
The criticism, while not considered authoritative. is the most explicit so far of the United States in what has become a widening Soviet propaganda effort to link Washington to the Chinese military invasion, now in its fifth day.
The latest tension between the United States and the Soviet Union comes as the two countries are attempting to reach a final agreement on strategic arms limitations. Although Carter's speech dealt mainly with the SALT negotiations, the fourparagraph Tass account read on the television nightly news show made little mention of them.
"The call to exercise restraint which the president was talking about should be addressed in only one direction -- to the Peking aggressor," the Tass report asserted. "The issuing of such appeals in general is nothing other than an attempt to equate the aggressor with the victiom of aggression."
The Tass account showed Soviet sensitivity to the Cambodian issue, where Vietnamese invaders backed by the Soviets toppled the pro-Peking regime of Pol Pot and installed a "national front" government quickly recognized by the Kremlin.
Carter said in his speech that the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia and the Chinese invasion "threaten the stability of one of the world's most important and promising regions." He reiterated U.S. efforts to "encourage restraint" among the three nations involved "to seek to prevent a wider war."
Although the Soviets are increasing their anti-American propaganda as the turmoil continues in the border regions, they have not issued any further authoritative government statement of their position. On Sunday they warned the Chinese to withdraw "before it is too late."
The Soviets and Vietnamese representatives here have been reported officially to have consulted once, presumably in accordance with the military-consultation clause of their recently concluded treaty of friendship and cooperation. But it is unknown what steps, if any, the Russians are taking to bolster their Southeast Asian ally.
Deputy Vietnamese Foreign Minister Nguyen Co Thach told a Hanoi news conference today, according to Western press reports, that the Vietnamese will continue to be self-reliant. although he noted that "we have a friendship treaty with the Soviet Union."