Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said that his as yet unscheduled visit to Washington "remains in the field of vision," but he gave an otherwise gloomy assessment of U.S.-Soviet affairs in an interview today with an Algerian magazine.
Gorbachev, describing the current state of relations between the United States and the Soviet Union as "uneasy," said, "We have discovered . . . that as soon as we make a step forward to meet the U.S. position, the U.S. takes a step back from it."
The Soviet leader, in the wide-ranging interview, which is to appear in the magazine Revolution Africaine Thursday but was released today by the Soviet news agency Tass, also delivered fresh attacks on the recent U.S. clash with Libya, the Reagan administration's opposition to the Nicaraguan government and its support for rebels in Angola and Afghanistan.
Referring to the U.S. confrontation last week with Soviet ally Libya in the Gulf of Sidra as "gunboat diplomacy," Gorbachev said, "Evidently, former lessons have been wasted on Washington, which more than once has had to pay for its military ventures."
"If it were not for American interference in the affairs of other states," he added, "regional conflicts would be on the wane and be solved in far simpler and more just ways."
Gorbachev said that his summit meeting with Reagan in Geneva, "half opened the door to hope. But how this ray of light frightened people associated with the U.S. military-industrial complex. How heftily they pressed against the 'door' to slam it shut!"
The Soviet leader decried the lack of progress at the U.S.-Soviet arms negotiations in Geneva and called on Washington to reconsider his proposal for a meeting in Europe to discuss a bilateral ban on nuclear testing.
He originally proposed the meeting in a televised address here last Saturday, but the White House rejected it, saying it still needs nuclear tests and favors an eventual ban on testing if nuclear arsenals on both sides can be decreased.
The Soviet leader used his first major interview following the Communist Party congress to give an assessment of the significance of the event, which ended last month.
"We have declared war on conservatism, red tape, mismanagement, indiscipline, and inertness in everything," Gorbachev said.
"There is a lot to be done," he said. "Executives and all working people, farmers and intellectuals should adapt themselves to the new approaches."
Gorbachev also used the interview, which followed a visit to the Soviet capital by Algerian President Chadli Bendjedid, to pledge Moscow's support for national liberation movements and to attack Reagan administration initiatives in trouble spots in the Third World.
"Our sympathies are fully on the side of the peoples fighting for freedom, national independence and social progress," he said. "We have rendered and will continue to render them extensive assistance -- political, moral and material."
In an apparent attempt to contrast Moscow's foreign policy stance with Washington's, Gorbachev said, "What a multitude of fantastic stories American politicians have spawned about the U.S.S.R. and Cuba to justify the escalation of the military venture against Nicaragua.
"The American administration has offered its embrace to the Afghan rebels , bandits from UNITA in Angola, and South African racists," Gorbachev continued.
Gorbachev referred to an "anti-Geneva syndrome" in Washington, but said, "I would put emphasis on the fact that a dialogue between the leadership of the Soviet Union and the U.S. administration is necessary. It is difficult to expect an improvement in the international situation without normalization of Soviet-American relations."
Gorbachev insisted that his offer for a meeting with Reagan in Europe was "not instead of our meeting in the United States of America, on which we agreed in Geneva and which I didn't even mention this time.
"As for my visit to the United States, this remains in the field of vision of both the Soviet and the American sides," he said.