Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko said tonight that only a change in American policies and attitudes could open the way to a summit meeting between President Reagan and Soviet President Yuri Andropov.
Gromyko made the statement in an interview with Tass, the Soviet government news agency, clearly seeking to counter speculation in the West and "particularly in Washington" that such a meeting is possible in the current situation.
He said "proper preconditions" for a summit require "a certain degree of mutual understanding on major issues that are fundamental" to the relations between the two superpowers as well as to "the overall international situation." Another requirement, Gromyko added, was "the desire of both sides actually to strive for positive developments, or even better, for a breakthrough in their mutual relations."
The Soviet foreign minister said, "If we consider the state of affairs from this point of view, it becomes clear that the pronouncements of American figures on a meeting are not backed up by anything. American policy on relations with the Soviet Union does not pursue any constructive goals at all and American leaders do not make a secret of that. Moreover it is oriented in the completely opposite direction.
"When there appear in American politics real signs of readiness to conduct affairs in a serious and constructive manner, the question of the possibility of a summit will appear in a different light."
However, Gromyko reaffirmed Soviet interest in a summit meeting, quoting Andropov as saying that such meetings are "particularly important to the solution of complex problems." He added that a Reagan-Andropov summit would be "useful" if it would produce "major results" for bilateral as well as international issues.
The prevailing view articulated privately here is that Reagan may want a summit meeting next year largely as a "photo opportunity" that could be useful in the 1984 presidential election campaign by promoting his image as a flexible head of state seeking dialogue and compromise with the Soviet Union.
According to this view, a summit between the two men is unlikely during the next 12 months unless there is a breakthrough in the Geneva talks on medium-range nuclear weapons. As long as the Geneva talks remain deadlocked--and the United States committed to the deployment of 572 Pershing II and cruise missiles in Western Europe--Andropov cannot entertain the notion of a summit, according to some Soviet officials.
Recent speeches by senior Soviet figures as well as press commentaries have been harshly critical of the United States. In a major speech last week, Andropov described the tensions between the two blocs as having reached an intensity not known during the past three decades.
The tone of Gromyko's remarks, however, was cautious and appeared to hold out the hope that Washington could come up with some "real signs" of its interest in an accommodation with Moscow. His "preconditions" were vague, involving "a certain degree" of understanding on the outstanding issues and a demonstration of "desire" to seek an improvement in the international climate.