Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev has asked to meet West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt in Bonn sometime this year and an official visit may be held before the summer, a Bonn government spokesman said today.
Brezhnev had been given an open invitation by West Germany some time ago and the current request for a meeting was being interpreted by Bonn officials as a reflection of Moscow's determination to demonstrate its seriousness in revitalizing relations with the West despite the present tensions.
The Soviet leader is also reported to be considering a trip to Paris to see President Valery Giscard d'Estaing.
The likelihood and timing of the meetings depend largely on Polish developments, about which Bonn officials along with other Western governments have grown increasingly alarmed.
Visiting Moscow last week, West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher failed to get assurances that the Soviet Union would not intervene in Poland. When he urged that the principle of moderation be observed toward Polish developments, the West German official received what one informed Bonn Foreign Ministry source described as "no substantial reply."
The Bonn government, which among Western nations has developed the most extensive economic and humanitarian ties with Soviet-led Eastern Europe, has supported Western warnings that a Soviet intervention in Poland would mean the end to detente. In a notable toughening of his own public stance on Bonn's Eastern policy, Schmidt last week joined President Reagan in saying the use of internal or external force to suppress the Polish people would result in a cutoff of economic aid to Poland.
But an early Schmidt-Brezhnev meeting would fit well into the West German leader's policy of promoting East-West contacts. When in February Brezhnev invited Reagan to a summit meeting, Schmidt was quick to urge the American president to accept.
Kurt Becker, the Bonn spokesman, said today that Brezhnev's expected Bonn visit should be seen apart from a possible U.S.-Soviet summit meeting, which American officials have indicated should not be expected this year.
Becker said discussions about possible dates for the Bonn meeting were still being held. Replying to questions, he said the possibility of a meeting before the start of the West German parliamentary summer break in late June depended on the two leaders' schedules. In any case, Schmidt is not expected to see Brezhnev until after the West German chancellor visits Reagan in Washington on May 20.
Brezhnev has come to Bonn twice -- in 1973 and 1978 -- since the signing in 1970 of a treaty between West Germany and the Soviet Union renouncing the use or threat of force and smoothing the way for Bonn to achieve more normal relations with other Eastern European states.
Schmidt and Brezhnev last met in June 1980 in Moscow and Schmidt left an open invitation for the Soviet leader to visit Bonn. The idea of a meeting this year is known to have been mentioned when Genscher saw Brezhnev last week, although Becker indicated the suggestion had been broached by Brezhnev earlier through "diplomatic channels." Becker recalled that last year Schmidt and Brezhnev had agreed to stay in close contact, particularly during periods of international tension.
In a meeting between the two leaders, a key issue is expected to be resumption of U.S.-Soviet negotiations on limiting nuclear missiles in Europe -- negotiations Schmidt was credited with helping to start by conveying an initial Soviet offer from Brezhnev to then-president Jimmy Carter last year. A later preliminary month-long U.S.-Soviet negotiating session was adjourned in November. While the Reagan administration has affirmed its commitment to continue the talks, no date for their resumption has been set.
In an interview with the Suddeutsche Zeitung to be published Tuesday, Schmidt is quoted as saying he was sure the negotiations would be resumed "this summer or late summer."
The talks are regarded as essential by Western European governments, which face growing challenges to their defense modernization plans from groups opposed to nuclear weapons.
"If there were no negotiations this year," Schmidt said, "it would not just be more difficult to me at home, it would also lead to difficulties in relations with the government of the United States."