Despite a joint summit statement by President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev calling for "early progress" at the Geneva arms talks, the director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency said yesterday that he does not expect new instructions to be given to the U.S. negotiators.

Instead, Kenneth L. Adelman told reporters at a breakfast meeting, negotiators at the talks on strategic, intermediate-range nuclear force (INF) and space and defense weapons will continue explaining the U.S. counterproposal they presented two weeks ago.

The Geneva talks are to resume Jan. 16.

"We will be waiting for a Soviet response," Adelman said, quickly adding that "we are not saying we will be sitting immutable . . . we will be prepared for give and take."

Adelman also said a major U.S. goal at Geneva will be getting the Soviet Union to drop its "insistence" that progress in reducing strategic arms is linked to limitations on President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, the "Star Wars" research program.

Reiterating Reagan's determination that SDI research continue unrestrained, Adelman said he expects that the Soviets eventually will back down because they have done so several times in recent years and "we have to presume that they will change their position on SDI someday."

Adelman and other administration officials have said the Soviets dropped the linkage between the SDI and arms reduction in the Reagan-Gorbachev summit statement. It calls for progress on reduction of offensive weapons by 50 percent but does not mention the SDI or space weapons.

However, one U.S. participant in negotiations on the statement said the two sides agreed to drop mention of the controversial space-weapons issue because they could not agree on language, not as a sign that linkage was dropped.

Another source said the introduction to the Reagan-Gorbachev statement declared that one task of the Geneva talks is "to prevent an arms race in space and terminate it on Earth," the same language used by Moscow to maintain the connection between the separate discussions on space weapons and strategic weapons in Geneva.

Adelman said he thinks that the linkage issue will vanish because the Soviets use it only to try "to gut the SDI program rather than using it in the arms-control process."

Referring to the last round at Geneva, Adelman said progress was made in the strategic and INF talks despite some totally unacceptable elements in the Soviet offer.

The Soviets "do entertain the idea of deep reductions," Adelman said, adding that discussions had been held about limiting the destructive power -- known as throw-weight -- of the largest and most threatening Soviet missiles. "They used to stonewall that issue," he said.

Adelman described as "ridiculous" the Soviet call for a ban on space weapons and research leading toward such systems.

Overall, however, he said Soviet arms proposals in the last Geneva round "went beyond what I had anticipated."

Adelman said other U.S. goals there will be to "bridge the gaps" that exist between the U.S. and Soviet strategic-weapons proposals and to "concentrate on verification issues." He said the latter were given little emphasis in the first three rounds.

He also confirmed a Washington Post report that the Soviets have reduced to 243 the number of their European-based, intermediate-range SS20 missiles but added, "I don't regard it as much of a gesture" since the mobile missile force could be reconstituted rapidly.

In a related area, another key administration official said yesterday that he fears the Soviets are "backing away" from holding separate talks on INF reductions, which their negotiators in Geneva proposed before the summit.

Gorbachev first mentioned separate INF talks in a visit to Paris early last month.

This official pointed out that, during summit negotiations on the leaders' joint statement, the Soviets "repeatedly refused" to agree to mentioning separate INF talks. Rather, he said, they insisted on referring to "an interim agreement."

He said he believed that the Soviets want to keep all three sets of talks together, fearing that if the INF negotiations are separated, pressure would increase to separate the other two, as the United States wants.