Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. said today that his nine hours of meetings with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko did not reduce the tensions between the nuclear superpowers, but he expressed satisfaction that they explored "a whole host of areas of intense disagreement."
Haig, speaking on NBC television's "Today" program, said only future events will tell if his talks with Gromyko made a substantial contribution toward improved relations. "There are still a number of issues that divide us," he said.
The secretary of state's comments and those of close aides suggested that the meetings were more important as the start of a high-level dialogue than for any specific accomplishments. An aide to Haig said, "Two things of significance were accomplished" -- an agreement to begin negotiations on medium-range nuclear forces in Europe and the agreement to meet again early next year.
Asked about a summit meeting between President Reagan and Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev, Haig tied such talks more explicitly than in the past to the state of overall relations. A summit, he said, "is a matter that would be a direct reflection" of the improvement, or lack of it, "in East-West relations in general."
Haig disclosed that he and Gromyko discussed the possibility of resuming U.S.-Soviet negotiations next year on the limitation of strategic arms. But aides cautioned reporters against assuming that the prospective Haig-Gromyko meeting would coincide with the start of a new round of strategic arms talks.
The Soviet news agency Tass, in a brief report on the meetings, said Gromyko emphasized to Haig "the fruitlessness in attempts to achieve military superiority." According to Tass, Gromyko told Haig that future arms-control negotiations should preserve "everything positive" accomplished so far and recognize "the principle of equality and equal security of the two sides."
Discussing the tone of the sessions, the great majority of which were conducted in private by Haig and Gromyko without aides or advisers, a State Department source said it was not in any way comparable to that of the harsh rhetoric employed by Gromyko in his speech last Tuesday to the U.N. General Assembly.
The Tass report said Gromyko told Haig that the Soviet Union is not seeking confrontation with the United States but is in favor of "relaxing international tensions, scaling down the arms race and settling conflict situations through talks."
The first round of Haig-Gromyko talks was described by the U.S. side last week as "frank and businesslike." After the final session Monday, the word "serious" was added.
"The word 'serious' was chosen very carefully, not to suggest any degree of hostility in the second meeting but because they were very serious discussions about very serious problems," a State Department official said.
Haig's activities today included:
* A meeting with Salvadoran President Jose Napoleon Duarte, who is in the final days of a visit to this country.
* A luncheon with African diplomatic representatives at which Haig declared that "we have now made real progress" toward independence for the southern African territory of Namibia, and declared that "our objective" is full implementation in 1982 of a U.N. resolution favoring the territory's independence.
Deputy Foreign Minister Ezekiel Mweu of Kenya said the Namibian issue is "badly complicating" U.S. ties with Africa.
* An hour-long meeting with Jordanian Crown Prince Hassan during which Haig reaffirmed U.S. support for Jordan's "territorial integrity and unique character." Official sources said Haig's statement was meant to buttress Jordan against suggestions from some Israelis that it should be taken over by Palestinians.