The U.S. government called on the Soviet Union yesterday to allow dissident Nobel laureate Andrei Sakharov, banished on Tuesday to the sealed-off city of Gorki, to come to the United States.
Calling the Soviet action against the famous physicist "a scar on their system that the Soviet leaders cannot erase by hurling abuse," a White House statement declared that Sakharov is welcome here in the tradition of exiled writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, musician Mstislav Rostropovich "and thousands of others who have fled Soviet oppression."
While governments throughout the Western world joined yesterday in condemning the Soviet action and asking that it be rescinded, there was no indication that Moscow would consider modifying the moves taken to silence Sakharov.
A spokesman for the Carter administration said that the statement itself constituted an invitation to Sakharov and no diplomatic approach to the Soviets had accompanied it.
The Soviet Union consistently has barred emigration of scientists far below the rank of Sakharov on the basis that they know state secrets, Sakharov, the father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb, has been prohibited from scientific work since his dissident efforts began 12 years ago.
The White House statement followed an initial U.S. reaction of "deepest concern" voiced by the State Department on Tuesday. Yesterday's declaration linked the repression of Sakharov to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan last month.
"We must . . . ask why the Soviet Union has chosen this moment to persecute this great man. What has he done in the past few months that is in any way different from what he was doing for the last 20 years?" it asked. Was the need to silence him now "because of the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan?"
The National Academy of Sciences meanwhile declared that Sakharov's arrest threatens to end 21 years of scientific exchanges between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Academy President Philip Handler said the Soviet President "can only be regarded as a challenge to further cooperation and an act of deliberate ill will . . . . I find it difficult to imagine scientic exchange continuing in the spirit we had created heretofore."
Handler issued the statement from China, where he and other American scientists are negotiating agreements with that government.
In Europe, a spokesman for West Germany said his government was deeply shaken by the decision to strip Sakharov of his honors and restrict him to Gorki, which is off-limits to foreigners. The spokesman in Bonn called on the Soviets to "revoke this violation of the rights of freedom of opionion and conscience."
Former chancellor Willy Brandt, who initiated West Germany's rapprochement with the East, also condemned Moscow's action, saying he felt personally affected by Sakharov's fate and hoped the measures against him were not a prelude to more retaliation.
In reaction to the invasion of Afghanistan, West Germany also announced plans to aid Pakistan and Turkey.
That announcement followed a Cabinet meeting to hear the report of Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher on return from Washington. The amount of the aid was not specified.
The French government denounced the Soviet suppression of Sakharov as "contrary to the spirit of the Helsinki accords" -- a reference to affirmations of human rights made at a European conference in 1975 that was held at the initial insistence of the Soviets.
The French government also said it would not interfere with the French Olympic Committee's decision to partitipate in the Moscow summer Olympics.
Italian President Sandro Pertini sent a telegram to Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev condemning Sakharov's arrest as "a clear violation of the civil rights censecrated in the Helsinki charter, recognized and signed by the Soviet Union." The U.S. statement also referred to the violation of the Helsinki accords.
Despite the expressions of European outrage against the latest Soviet action, British officials in London acknowledged what one said was "very little encouragement" for Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's effort, with President Carter, to move the Olympic Games from Moscow.
While France clearly has refused to go along, the other West European allies were described as "still on the fence." They are said to feel that moving the games at this date would be difficult if not impossible and are inclined to leave the matter in the hands of their national Olympic committees.