China said Thursday that its invasion of Vietnam was getting close to achieving its goals but there was no indication of significant changes on the battleground.
Chinese Vice Premier Li Hsien-nien told British reporters in Peking that the goal of making Vietnam realize that armed provocations would not benefit Hanoi had almost been achieved, but he was not specific about how soon China might withdraw.
China also proposed once again a meeting with Vietnam to negotiate an end to the invasion. A Foreign Ministry note to the Vietnamese Embassy in Peking called for vice ministers to meet as soon as possible.
Vietnam has said it will not hold talks until Chinese troops are out of the country.
Li denied that China's invasion goals were linked to Vietnam's overrunning of Cambodia in January.
He spoke a day after the U.N. Security Council failed to approve a resolution calling for a restoration of peace in Indochina. The United States and other Western nations had worked for approval of a resolution that would have linked the two invasions, calling for withdrawal of all foreign forces in Indochina.
"Kampuchea [Cambodia is] another question. We counterattacked [against Vietnam] because they make incursions into our territory Of course we stand by the people of Kampuchea in their fight against Vietnamese aggression," Li said.
That guerrilla fight by troops of Pol Pot backed by China has tied Vietnamese units down in what promises to be a long struggle.
The Cambodian government, in stalied by Vletnam after Hanoi's forces captured Phnom Penh Jan. 11, issued new criticism of China and Thailand reflecting the frustrations Vietnam is experiencing trying to consolidate its hold on Cambodia.
Cambodia's Foreign Ministry for the first time denounced Thailand for not living up to its pledges of neutrality.
It cited Chinese Vice Premier Teng Hsiao-ping's statement during his visit to the United States that China was sending arms to Pol Pot forces and "the only route now is through Thailand."
The question is a sensitive one here.
Thai Prime Minister Kraiangsak Chamanand denied the charge Thursday. He told reporters that the Pol Pot forces would need a large amount of supplies and Thailand could not conceal their delivery through Thailand. There is no evidence that Thailand is collaborating with China in largescale supply of the resistance. But, a flow of small arms probably could go undetected for some time across the long Thai-Cambodia border.
There have been report of Pol Pot forces taking sancturary in Thailand during the first weeks of the Vietnamese invasinon and then returning to fight. The ability of Pol Pot's men to keep up their guerrilla actions as well as they apparently have been doing also indicates that they are not starved for supplies.
Vietnam recognized this sensitivity early in its invasion when it assured
Thailand does not want Vietnamese forces on its border. Traditionally, Cambodia has been a comforting buffer for Bangkok between Thailand and Vietnnam's military power.
Thailand that its troops would not approach the border.
That promise was violated in several areas, however, and where it was observed it seems to analysts here Vietnam was making a virtue of necessity. In several areas of western Cambodia, the Vietnamese had to stop their drive well short of the border when they found themselves overextended.
Thailand's role is complicated by the Hanoi-backed insurgency in Thailand's northeast. The threat of greater pressure there is a concern motivating Thailand's effort to maintain its apperance of neutrality in a situation that could become more delicate if, as seems likely, the Vietnamese remain frustrated in Cambodia for some time.
The only news of fighting in the Chinese invasion of Vietnam came from Radio Hanoi.
It indicated that the most intense military action was around Langson, 85 miles north of Hanoi on route 1A. Vietnamese forces are dug in on the hills around the town and for the second day Hanoi claimed to have inflicted heavy casualties on Chinese forces in the area.
The radio broaceast, monitored here, said the Chinese had attacked on Highway 1A and Highway is near Langson.
If China intends to make a major push there, however, it apparently has not begun despite its military strength in the area.
In saying that China's goals are close tos being realized, Li said: "We have occupied a few [Vietnamese] provinces, a number of regions and we have dealt fatal blows to a few of their divisions."
The emphasis, apparently, should be on "few" because the Chinese invations forces continue to probe cautiously.