The Soviet Union strongly condemned Britain's use of force in the Falklands crisis today, calling for an immediate cease-fire and a negotiated settlement of the dispute.
"The confident opinion in the Soviet Union is that no matter how different are the positions of the sides on the substance of the conflict, disputable issues between them should be ironed out by peaceful means, by negotiations," an official Soviet statement said. "Even long negotiations are better than a short war.
"Expressing anxiety over the dangerous development of events around the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands, the leading Soviet circles denounce Britain's use of military force. An immediate end should be put to the bloodshed. Prompt efforts, including those within the framework of the United Nations, are necessary to settle the Anglo-Argentine dispute through negotiations."
The statement was distributed by the government news agency Tass. It described the landing of British troops on the islands as a "dangerous turn" in the crisis.
The statement said Britain bore full responsibility for the conflict because it had refused to decolonize the islands and reach a peaceful settlement with Argentina over their future. It made no mention of Argentina's seizure of the islands on April 2 but insisted that "since the very beginning of the conflict Britain" had planned to use force to resolve the issue. It said London also "blocked recent efforts" to prevent the armed conflict.
Tass said while Britain refused to seek a negotiated settlement, the Argentine government "stands for continued negotiations." It added: "This refusal to hold negotiations cannot be justified no matter how one assesses the cause of the conflict."
The Soviets also took the opportunity to accuse the United States of "actually" having encouraged the British government to seek a military solution.
The tone of the statement reflected earlier Soviet commentaries on the Falklands crisis. While expressing sympathy for Argentina, the Kremlin has not endorsed the armed seizure by Argentina of the islands.
News agencies reported these other developments:
Pope John Paul II renewed his call for a cease-fire in the South Atlantic conflict "before it is too late," and called on Argentina and Britain to resume negotiations immediately.
Argentina's president, Gen. Leopoldo Galtieri, responding to a telegram yesterday from the pontiff, said his country was willing "to share a cessation of hostilities." There was no immmediate response from British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who was sent an identical telegram by the pope.
The pope did not mention his six-day trip to Britain, scheduled to begin Friday. Because of the escalating war in the South Atlantic there was some doubt that John Paul would make the trip, which would be the first visit to Britain by a pope.
French President Francois Mitterrand, in his first statement on the conflict since British forces landed on the Falklands, reiterated France's solidarity with Britain.
Mitterrand's statement came the day before foreign ministers of the European Community are to meet in Brussels to decide whether to continue a British-requested ban on Argentine imports that expires at midnight Monday.
Further joint action by the 10-nation community was in question, diplomatic sources said. Britain will argue for its extension as a valuable psychological and economic element in its conflict with Argentina. But some countries are said to feel there is no point, now that Britain has launched its invasion, in renewing sanctions originally imposed to strengthen the hand of diplomacy.