West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt today said the United States and the Soviet Union were approaching the start of new arms reduction talks in Geneva Monday with "maximum positions" that would require changes if an agreement is eventually to be reached.
He also asserted that both superpowers were making propaganda of figures about medium-range nuclear weapons in Europe in anticipation of the talks.
Again urging President Reagan and Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev to meet in order to "see that the other is also not a warmonger," the West German leader said he considered a superpower summit "possible and probable in the later part of 1982."
On the matter of West German-Soviet contacts now planned to parallel the U.S.-Soviet negotiations in Geneva, Foreign Ministry spokesman Karl Paschke today contradicted a report yesterday from Social Democratic Party sources who had said the idea to continue such exchanges had come from the Soviets. Paschke stated that West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher had first suggested the arrangement in a session here with his Soviet counterpart, Andrei Gromyko, during this week's visit to Bonn of a high-level Soviet delegation led by Brezhnev.
A government spokesman also disclosed that Schmidt had a 20-minute telephone conversation with Reagan yesterday following Brezhnev's departure. Reagan was quoted as finding the conduct and details of the Schmidt-Brezhnev meeting "greatly encouraging."
Schmidt, discussing the visit and the upcoming U.S.-Soviet talks in interviews today, indicated that the bargaining in Geneva will be difficult.
He said Reagan's offer of a "zero option" together with Brezhnev's proposals outlined here represented "starting positions" that "as they now stand cannot lead to an accord. That's clear. There has to be movement from the high level of unlimited demands to rather more realistic levels where compromises can be made."
The United States has offered under the "zero option" to cancel its planned deployment of Pershing II and cruise missiles in several West European countries if the Soviets dismantle their SS20, SS4 and SS5 rockets now targeted on Western Europe and China.
The Soviets in turn have said they would remove, though not necessarily dismantle, only some of these systems if the Americans forego their new missiles. They have also declared their interest in making further substantial weapons cuts if the West includes U.S. medium-range, nuclear capable aircraft, plus the British and French nuclear systems in the negotiations.
Schmidt asserted that while the aim of the negotiations must be to correct an imbalance in medium-range nuclear weapons which now favors the Soviets, the issue is clouded at the moment by the "sound and fury" of a numbers game being played by both sides.