The Reagan administration expects the talks next Monday and Tuesday between Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei A. Gromyko to lead to two sets of arms control negotiations that could begin as early as March, administration officials said today.
Officials who discussed the forthcoming talks under ground rules that they not be identified said that the United States would propose one set of negotiations on offensive weapons, in effect merging the two negotiations on intercontinental nuclear missiles and on intermediate-range missiles that the Soviets abandoned a year ago at Geneva.
These officials said that the other set of talks would involve defensive weapons, including antisatellite devices and President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, his "Star Wars" idea of setting up a defense against missiles in space, which he has insisted be put before the Soviets.
These officials said also that Reagan was firm in the view that there be no moratoriums on any weapons development in advance of substantive arms talks with the Soviets, or even as a unilateral gesture as such talks begin.
"Any limitations would have to come out of the negotiations," one official said.
While it has long been agreed within the administration that the United States should not make advance concessions to induce the Soviets to return to the bargaining table, some officials have said an agreement to halt further tests on antisatellite weapons might be possible once the Soviets did return to bargaining.
But an official familiar with the conflicts within the administration on this issue said today that no such halt would be agreed to except as part of a "package deal" with the Soviets.
Unless such an agreement was reached, he said, the scheduled spring test of an antisatellite weapon that is launched from an F15 fighter and fired at a satellite in space would continue as scheduled.
"There has been a shift from the center to the right on this issue within the administration," said an official, adding that the Defense Department view on the need to continue these tests had prevailed with Reagan.
The State Department had favored negotiating a separate suspension of tests on space weapons, according to this official, who said that the issue had been debated before Reagan during the past month.
The president was said to take the view that the United States should not abandon testing of a weapon that the Soviets want restricted or agree to halt research on defensive weapons until the Soviets agreed to limits on offensive weapons.
At the same time, this official said, the United States was "prepared to be flexible" and said that Shultz would convey this to Gromyko at Geneva.
In recent weeks, U.S. officials have been trying to lower expectations for the Geneva meeting. In an interview with a Japanese newspaper released last week, Reagan talked of "hard bargaining" and a long process before any arms control agreement could be reached with the Soviets.
But U.S. officials said they were recently encouraged when Soviet officials declined offers to appear on U.S. network television to explain their position. The Reagan administration interpreted this as a sign that the Soviets are serious about negotiating at Geneva instead of merely making propaganda points.
Reagan received what is now described as the consensus view of his advisers in a 12-page document this weekend. He met today with national security affairs adviser Robert C. McFarlane and is scheduled to meet Tuesday with Shultz and Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger.
But officials said that these meetings involve details and that all the main issues of the U.S. presentation Shultz will make at Geneva have been decided. That does not mean all differences have been ironed out on the substantive positions the administration may eventually take in the arms talks. The administration has had difficulty with internal conflicts on such issues in the past.
Reagan will return to Washington on Wednesday after meeting in Los Angeles with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone. McFarlane will brief reporters on the U.S. view of the Geneva talks Thursday, and Shultz is scheduled to depart Saturday after another meeting with Reagan.
A U.S. official said today that Reagan will reaffirm the U.S. commitment to "global limitations" on medium-range nuclear missiles in his meeting with Nakasone, reassuring the Japanese leader that the United States would not be a party to an agreement that would transfer these weapons from Europe to Asia.