India ran into a stone wall with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko today in its attempt to use freindly persuasion to get Moscow to pull its troops out of Afghanistan.
Even though Indian officials have been assuring Western diplomats and reporters here and in other South Asian capitals for weeks that the Soviets would heed their private pleas, two days of Indo-Soviet talks ended today with no sign of a change in Moscow's position.
Friendly persuasion had been the cornerstone of Indira Gandhi's foreign policy since she returned as India's prime minister last month. By not antagonizing the Soviets through denunciations of their military intervention into Afghanistan, Indian officials said they hoped to succeed in getting the estimated 80,000 to 100,000 Soviet troops out of the region.
It was obvious tonight that strategy had failed.
"The Soviet Union, consistent with its freindliness toward India, took note and appreciated our point of view," was all the Indian spokesman, J. N. Dixit, could say at the conclusion of today's talks.
Underscoring India's inability to persuade Gromyko was Dixit's characterization of "the important trend" from the talks:
"Both sides reaffirmed their determination to develop and strengthen Indo-Soviet relations in the context of traditional friendship and good relations that have existed between the two countries."
Gandhi met with Gromyko for almost three hours Tuesday and today the veteran Soviet diplomat met for two hours with India's new external affairs minister, P. V. Narashimha Rao.
Dixit announced that Gromyko invited Gandhi and Rao to visit Moscow and they accepted, although no date was set.
The Indians took an unusally tough stand with the Soviets in Tuesday's talks as Gandhi told Gromyko that India hoped Moscow would get its troops out of Afghanistan, a traditional buffer state between the Soviet Union and India.
While India called for restraint and a deescalation of tensions, Gromyko for the second straight day delivered a stinging attack on Pakistan, which he accused tonight of supporting raids into Afghanistan.
Earlier, the Soviet news agency Tass accused Pakistan of violating Afghanistan's airspace and of becoming the main base for "interventionist forces" against the Afghan government.
"It is well known in the Soviet Union," Gromyko said in a speech at a banquet for Rao tonight, "that Pakistan does not want peace with Afghanistan."
"If it wants it [peace]," he added, "it should cease intrusions into the territory of Afghanistan from its side and this decision should be effective and guaranteed."
He said Pakistan has the choice "of peace and good neighborly relations or tension and hositity with a neighboring state."
Dixit refused to respond to questions about whether Gromyko's toast Tuesday night showed lack of restraint and contributed to an escalation of tension. The Spokesman said national leaders often take advantage of occasions such as this meeting to push their point of view.
But one member of the Indian Parliament, Subramanian Swamy, protested Gromyko's speech as "a misuse of Indian hospitality."
Dixit said Indian officials believe the meetings with Gromyko this week and with President Carter's special representative, Clark Clifford, two weeks ago have helped eo ease tension in the area.
"Whenever different leaders from diffrent countries sit together . . . and help understand each other, it is a step toward peace," he said.
Speaking specifically of the talks with the Soviet Union, which continually was referred to as a strong and longtime friend of India's, Dixit said, "No door is closed, and that's a positive development."