Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. ruled out an early Soviet-American summit meeting today as he arrived here to express "outrage" to Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko over events in Poland.
Haig's view that no summit meeting is practical in the present situation was made known to reporters aboard his plane en route to the sessions Tuesday with his Soviet counterpart.
President Reagan has expressed interest twice during the past month in meeting with Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev. Haig has said several times, and repeated here today, that Reagan believes high-level communications with the Soviets are vitally important in periods of crisis. But he also has said that it is uncertain whether the military crackdown in Poland will affect the chances for a summit conference.
The chances for a Reagan-Brezhnev meeting receded as the U.S. administration downgraded the coming session with Gromyko to one day rather than two days of talks and canceled earlier plans to launch new strategic arms negotiations with the Soviets at this time.
The duration of the delay in a summit meeting and strategic arms talks remained unclear.
Reporters were unsuccessful in pinning down the definition of how early is an "early" summit. Brezhnev first proposed the meeting last February. Previously Reagan has said that a meeting with Brezhnev is likely during 1982.
The "senior official" who speaks to reporters on background during travels of the secretary of state was no more forthcoming about a probable date to begin START, the Reagan administration acronym for strategic arms reduction talks.
"We're continuing to move as rapidly as we can to prepare for the start of START talks when conditions are right," said the "senior official," who noted that before the imposition of martial law in Poland in December, the timetable was for the negotiations with the Soviets to begin by early spring.
Reporters who asked if that timetable is still a possibility were told, "That depends on events between now and then."
The decision against using this week's meeting with Gromyko to set a date for the talks was described as not "a brittle decision" on the arms-control negotiations "but rather to make it clear that business as usual won't be conducted" and to demonstrate the "linkage" between Soviet activities and arms-control negotiations.
It is "nonsense," according to the airborne briefing, to believe that the administration decisions on Soviet affairs in recent days were taken in response to criticism from former secretary of state Henry Kissinger.
An official traveling with Haig said all the circumstances of Soviet-American relations, rather than Poland alone, will bear on a decision of whether to begin the strategic arms talks in the weeks to come.
As for Poland, Haig spoke in an airport arrival statement of the "increasing repression" there, in keeping with the official view that the situation still is deteriorating. His view, as made known on the plane, is that "this is clearly going to be a long-term problem."
Viewing the Western reponse, Haig said it is "significant and encouraging" that the West is united on the events in Poland and on "the responsibility of the Soviet Union" for them.
Reporters also were told that Haig is encouraged that a NATO meeting in Brussels yesterday will lead to "a wide spectrum" of political and economic sanctions being adopted by the allies in the Polish situation. But he is "disappointed" at the French action, announced the same day, to conclude a 25-year-contract to purchase natural gas from the Soviets.
Haig said he will use the opportunity of Tuesday's meeting "to express first hand and directly to Foreign Minister Gromyko the outrage that is felt in my own country and in Western capitals as well with respect to this situation."
As if the reference to "outrage" were not enough to set a frigid tone for the discussions, Haig quickly added that he also will discuss "the continuing unsatisfactory situation in Afghanistan" with Gromyko.
It was clear from the tone of Haig's public remarks as well as other comments by U.S. officials that they have little or no expectation of progress in Soviet-American relations coming from the Haig-Gromyko talks.
Gromyko is to arrive Monday.
Haig is expected to spend most of Monday in his hotel preparing for the talks. In addition, he is scheduled to see Paul Nitze, the chief U.S. negotiator at the U.S.-Soviet talks on the limitation of medium-range nuclear weapons in Europe. He will also meet with Swiss Foreign Minister Pierre Aubert and Prince Bandar ibn Sultan, son of the Saudi Arabian defense minister and chief Saudi lobbyist in Washington for the sale of the Airborne Warning and Control System planes.