Secretary of State James A. Baker III and West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher agreed yesterday that the Soviet Union appears to want quick agreement on reducing conventional military forces in Europe, but Baker cautioned that the Soviets have not taken the "concrete action" necessary for an accord.

Following a meeting at the State Department, Genscher, who conferred with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze in Geneva on Wednesday, told reporters that Shevardnadze expressed Soviet interest on "a speedy conclusion" of the Vienna talks on conventional forces, known as CFE.

Genscher added that he believes the Soviets want an agreement in time to hold a summit meeting of the 35 nations in the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) before the end of the year.

Baker said Shevardnadze had told him the same thing in Moscow last week. But he added, "we need to see some concrete action." He refused to predict any breakthrough at the summit here next week between President Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev "because we have not seen a lot of progress {in the negotiations} over the past few weeks."

Baker noted that in Moscow, "Statements were made to us that the Soviet position is the same as the position of the United States, that a conventional forces agreement is a precondition to a CSCE summit." The summit, which many Europeans are hoping would lay the foundation of a new security system in Europe, would involve 33 European countries plus the United States and Canada.

In Moscow, Baker gave the Soviets specific American ideas about possible U.S. and NATO cuts in troop levels and conventional weapons such as tanks and artillery. But the Soviets failed to respond with counterproposals, and Baker left Moscow saying he was "disappointed."

That remark was widely interpreted to mean he does not think the Soviets are ready at this time to make CFE proposals acceptable to the West. Asked if Genscher's report on his more recent talks with Shevardnadze had made him change his mind, Baker replied:

"My assessment was not that the Soviets are not ready to take meaningful steps. What I said was that, during the course of our discussions in Moscow, we were not met with a meaningful response. That's why I think it is significant that {Genscher} has just concluded this meeting with Shevardnadze in which they reconfirmed to him that they really want to move forward on conventional forces. Now time will tell, and the proof of the pudding is in the eating."