Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko met China's Deputy Foreign Minister Qian Qichen here today and emphasized Moscow's readiness to extend "bilateral ties and contacts" to "promote" a general improvement in their relations.
A statement issued by the government news agency Tass quoted Gromyko as emphasizing that the Soviets would like to "look for ways toward the normalization of relations" with China and that the use of "the existing possibilities for gradual broadening" of contacts could promote that objective.
Although both sides were quoted as attaching a "positive importance" to their political talks, the statement gave no indication that they have produced any substantial breakthrough.
The Chinese "special envoy" was merely quoted as having "set out the position of the Chinese side on matters of Soviet-Chinese relations and on some international problems."
The second round of Sino-Soviet political talks ended here last Tuesday. The Chinese then went to Uzbekistan for a four-day visit and departed for Peking tonight. The first round of talks was held in Peking last October.
The decision by Gromyko to receive Qian Qichen was interpreted as another gesture toward Peking. Although the talks here apparently produced few results, the Chinese delegation was accorded a warm welcome and the negotiations themselves are said to have been conducted in a "warm and friendly atmosphere."
After their meeting with Gromyko, the Chinese were treated to a banquet hosted by Deputy Foreign Minister Leonid Ilyichev, the chief Soviet negotiator.
Well-informed diplomats here said this was possibly Ilyichev's final round of Sino-Soviet negotiations, in which he has been involved for more than 10 years. The 76-year-old diplomat's place at the expected third round of talks in Peking is likely to be taken by Mikhail Kapitsa, who is in his early fifties and is the Foreign Ministry's top China specialist.
The Tass statement on the Gromyko-Qian Qichen talks today suggested that the Chinese continue to insist on discussing a list of what Peking regards as "impediments" to improved relations.
The list includes the Soviet involvement in Afghanistan, Moscow's backing for the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia, the presence of Soviet troops in Mongolia and of Soviet forces and armor along the Sino-Soviet border.
Chinese sources said the only issue discussed in a substantive way was the presence of forces along their common border. Both sides were reported to have outlined in detail their requirements for an agreement to thin out men and armor on both sides of the border.
The Russians are said to have proposed to Peking a nonaggression pact as well as a package of "confidence-building measures" along the Sino-Soviet border. The Chinese are said to have rejected both proposals.
Gromyko's reference to "the existing possibilities" for expanding links and contacts is believed to be a reference to the possibility of expanding trade between the two Communist giants, which have been feuding for the past two decades.
A Sino-Soviet trade agreement signed here 10 days ago provides for a 150 percent increase in the volume of trade this year over the 1982 figure. Last year the total trade amounted to $320 million. The bulk of additional Chinese exports to the Soviet Union will involve Chinese textiles, a political move by Moscow in the wake of a Sino-American dispute over U.S. import controls.
Tonight, the government newspaper Izvestia published a report from Peking that the fifth round of Sino-American talks on textiles has ended in failure. The Soviet decision to import large quantities of Chinese textile goods is seen as a political move since U.S. import controls have affected Chinese textile exports to the United States.