West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl plans to visit Moscow in June to explore the possibility of a summit meeting between Soviet leader Yuri Andropov and President Reagan, officials said today.
Following Kohl's return home today from a one-day working trip to Washington, government spokesmen confirmed that the chancellor wants to go to Moscow soon. They said he will try to persuade the Soviet leadership that progress must be achieved quickly in the Geneva arms talks on medium-range nuclear weapons or the West will proceed with plans to deploy Pershing II missiles on West German territory later this year.
On a trip to Washington last November, Kohl proposed that an early summit meeting between U.S. and Soviet leaders could prove useful in establishing an intimate channel between Reagan and Andropov to defuse East-West tensions.
The West German government, while recognizing the reluctance of the Reagan administration to participate in such a meeting unless it is assured of success, nevertheless advocates a superpower summit as perhaps the only plausible format for securing a breakthrough in the stalled arms negotiations in Geneva.
Before leaving Washington, Kohl repeated his government's support for a Reagan-Andropov meeting and said "personal contacts continue to be important."
On the flight back to West Germany, Kohl declined to say whether he would be taking a message from Reagan to the Soviet leader and stressed that the two men did not need a mediator.
West German officials, however, conceded that the upcoming visit to Moscow could be perceived as a "sort of reconnaissance mission" to discern whether and under what circumstances the Soviet Union might prove amenable to holding a summit with the United States.
Kohl's primary objective in meeting Andropov, they said, would be to persuade him that the Soviet Union must begin now to negotiate seriously in Geneva if it wishes to achieve a settlement that would stop deployment of new missiles in West Europe.
Kohl has said repeatedly that, regardless of public opposition, deployment in West Germany of the Pershing II missiles will be started in December as scheduled unless an arms control agreement is reached.
Kohl's advisers say that he was highly pleased by Reagan's recent decision to propose an interim compromise in the Geneva negotiations and that he believes further signs of flexibility by the United States could help to defuse an unexpected barrage of antimissile protests in Europe expected this year.
Kohl's trip to Moscow in June is intended to demonstrate to the peace movement that as chancellor, he is doing all he can to encourage an accord between the superpowers that would restrict the number of missiles deployed in West Germany, if not keep them out of the country altogether.
The timing of the visit also is considered important because West German officials believe some movement in the arms talks must occur soon if an agreement is to be achieved before the missiles are stationed.
In addition, Kohl wants the trip to Moscow to occur before the West German parliament goes into summer recess at the end of June. Previously, Kohl was not expected to visit Moscow until this autumn.
In an appeal for more cooperation from Moscow during a West German television interview after his session with Reagan, Kohl said, "We want to negotiate. The Americans have made proposals and the Soviet Union has rejected them. I share the American president's view that this cannot and must not be the last word."
He added, "I am quite certain that the Americans are negotiating seriously and earnestly" and praised the close consultations that the Reagan administration has maintained with its European allies.
"In the months since I have been in office, I have been kept continually informed about the Geneva talks ," Kohl said. "I cannot imagine that one can do more to inform one's allies than the Americans are now doing."