Paul Nitze, chief U.S. negotiator at next week's arms reduction talks with the Soviet Union, underscored his expectation of "tough, intensive" bargaining with Moscow as he compared notes here today with senior West German officials about Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev's recent visit to Bonn.
Nitze's counterpart in the forthcoming Geneva negotiations, Yuli Kvitsinsky, arrived in the Swiss city and repeated in an airport arrival statement Brezhnev's offer to ban all nuclear weapons from Europe if the Americans, British and French would do the same.
The United States has made it clear that it intends to press President Reagan's offer of a "zero option" under which the United States would cancel its planned deployment of a new generation of medium-range missiles in Europe if the Soviet Union scraps its comparable weaponry, a considerably less ambitious proposal than Moscow's and one that leaves a clear divergence of positions coming into the negotiations.
"If our partners in the talks display willingness to agree on the complete renunciation on both sides -- the West and the East -- of all types of medium-range nuclear arms in Europe," Kvitsinsky said, "the Soviet Union, as Leonid Brezhnev stated in Bonn, will concur."
The Soviet negotiator also reiterated the modified moratorium proposal that Brezhnev put forward in Bonn, offering to stop deployment of new Soviet SS20 rockets and to remove an unspecified number of such weapons from the European part of the Soviet Union if the United States dropped its plans to deploy new missiles.
"This is an honest and constructive approach," Kvitsinsky said, "aimed at achieving a mutually acceptable accord with the United States on radical reductions in medium-range nuclear arms in Europe."
The Soviets have rejected the U.S. zero-option offer on grounds it would give the Americans a nuclear advantage in Europe. They will be demanding offsetting reductions in U.S. nuclear-capable aircraft in and around Europe, a point Kvitsinsky alluded to in his remarks today.
The Soviet proposal of a total ban on nuclear weapons in Europe is unacceptable to the Americans because some atomic weapons are currently thought necessary by the West to offset the Soviet superiority in conventional forces in Europe.
Few details were released either about Nitze's luncheon meeting here with West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher or his visit this evening in Hamburg with Chancellor Helmut Schmidt.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman said the U.S. negotiator outlined "very concrete ideas" of how the Geneva talks would proceed. Nitze was quoted as saying the United States would conduct the negotiations in an "intensive, constructive and uninterrupted manner."
Genscher himself called the start of talks Monday "an historic date" that could open a new chapter in the politics of disarmament, according to the spokesman. The Bonn government is especially anxious to see the U.S.-Soviet talks succeed in making the planned U.S. missiles deployment unnecessary. The American missiles have run into considerable public and political opposition in West Germany and other western European countries.
Genscher reportedly praised Nitze's visit to Bonn as proof of Washington's intentions to remain in close consultation with West Germany during the Geneva negotiations. Bonn officials were deeply involved in the drafting of America's starting position for the talks.