President Reagan yesterday summoned Max M. Kampelman, his chief arms control negotiator in Geneva, to Washington to lobby wavering House members on releasing funds to build 21 more MX missiles.
Kampelman will meet with the president Monday to report on "the progress of the talks," the White House said in a statement. Later, he and Reagan "will talk to members of the House of Representatives on the relationship of the MX program to progress in arms control."
On Tuesday, Kampelman is scheduled to head the U.S. delegation in Geneva at the first meeting of the critical panel on space weapons at the Soviet mission there. A State Department spokesman said the "plan as of now is to have him get back on a plane Monday night," but officials are not sure whether he will make the session. The delegation is prepared to have deputy negotiator and former White House staff member Ronald F. Lehman II sit in for Kampelman until he arrives.
The sudden recall came shortly after it was announced in Geneva that the first round of arms talks will end April 23. The United States had pushed for a briefer-than-normal round so that the delegation could take a quick measure of how serious Moscow is about the negotiations, according to informed sources.
Meanwhile in Moscow, the Soviet news agency Tass reported that Mikhail Gorbachev called for a "termination of new American missile deployments in Europe" as a way to help reach agreement in Geneva. Although the Communist Party leader's proposal is not new, observers said his remarks to a group of visiting Socialists were his most detailed arms control statement since taking office March 11.
The White House has been using the arms negotiations as a basic weapon in pushing for approval of the MX.
MX supporters in the House have predicted for weeks that with the arms talks under way the missile would win approval by as many as 20 to 30 votes.
Yesterday, Rep. Norman D. Dicks (D-Wash.), a supporter of the MX, said activity by the Democratic leadership "was making it closer than expected."
House Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) said this week that a bloc of 190 to 200 lawmakers will vote against the MX, but that another 20 or more lawmakers still must be convinced to oppose the missile if the anti-MX forces are to succeed.
Other top Democrats who oppose the missile have said that the MX votes next week are too close to call, but that it appears at this point that Reagan has the upper hand. The Senate approved release of $1.5 billion for the missiles earlier this week by a 55-to-45 vote.
One congressional aide, who is following the vote on behalf of MX supporters, said increased activity by the Democratic leadership might "shrink the vote favoring the MX down to the teens."
He criticized the president's recall of Kampelman, a Democrat. "They didn't have to bring him back," he said. "The negotiators have been much more effective impressing members by phone calls from Geneva, while they were on the job."
During the discussions in Geneva over the past two weeks the United States and the Soviets have agreed to have only four meetings for each of the three separate sets of talks before going back to their capitals for consultations. The space weapons group will meet Tuesdays, strategic weapons on Wednesday and intermediate-range force conferees on Thursdays.
The three sessions up to now have involved broad principles, not specifics, on the three subjects.
The Reagan administration's present "game plan," one source said, is to wait for the Soviets to take the lead in making proposals, before introducing any new U.S. offers. Normally, the United States makes the initial offer and the Soviets respond.
In the diplomatic exchanges leading to the present negotiations, the Soviets have taken the initiative, beginning with the surprise offer last November by then-President Konstantin Chernenko for a meeting to arrange for talks that included both nuclear missiles and space weapons.
Since the Jan. 7-8 meeting in Geneva between Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko that established the three separate negotiations, Moscow leaders have stressed that there will not be any progress in nuclear weapons reductions unless the United States agreed to limitations on space weapons, particularly the president's Strategic Defense Initiative, or "Star Wars" research program.
The chief Soviet negotiator, Viktor Karpov, reiterated that position in the closed sessions at Geneva this week, sources said.
Since the Soviets have put forward this position, a source said yesterday, "It is up to them to make an offer encompassing space defense and nuclear weapons."