WARSAW, JULY 1 -- Polish Premier Tadeusz Mazowiecki offered today to meet with Solidarity union leader Lech Walesa in an effort to ease the bitter political struggle that has divided the Solidarity movement into opposing camps.
An aide to Walesa said the union chairman was aware of the offer and that arrangements for a meeting this week would probably be announced soon.
The move by Mazowiecki, a former Solidarity editor handpicked by Walesa to head the Solidarity-led government, came at a meeting here of local Solidarity Citizens Committees, the grass-roots political wing of the labor movement. Walesa has accused his former ally of moving too slowly on political and economic reforms, while backers of Mazowiecki have accused Walesa of dictatorial tendencies and have called for transformation of the divided Citizens Committees into a new political organization that would marshal popular support for the government.
Addressing the gathering in the parliament building, Mazowiecki said he was always willing to talk with Walesa even though he had been attacked by him. He said he would call Walesa on condition that the conversation would be conducted as a "full partnership" and not as Mazowiecki "paying a serf's homage."
"I think that certain issues should be toned down," Mazowiecki said. "I am proposing to Mr. Walesa to talk this coming week." Mazowiecki said they should talk "not to remove all differences between us, because that would not be true, but to talk so that disputes and battles proceed in a way that does not destroy the common good of Poland and Solidarity's legacy."
Walesa and Mazowiecki factions competed aggressively for the allegiance of the Solidarity rank and file during the weekend meeting, and the fight seemed to end in a draw. Delegates were not enthusiastic over the call from the Mazowiecki faction to create a national federation that would act as a base of support for the government, but in a straw poll today they also rejected Walesa's proposal that the Citizens Committees be opened to members of other political groups.
The question of the committees' role is important because they constitute the country's strongest political force. In parliamentary elections last year and local elections last month, virtually all candidates endorsed by the Citizens Committees won.
Walesa argues that the local committees should admit supporters of other budding political parties and become forums for discussing public issues. He also says they should be free to criticize the government.
Supporters of Mazowiecki accuse Walesa of demagoguery and of seeking personal control of the committees. They want the committees to band together to create a national federation to defend Mazowiecki's nine-month-old government, which is carrying out sweeping, often painful economic reforms.
At a meeting of ranking Solidarity members last week, 63 of Walesa's most senior allies broke ranks with him on the issue, accusing him of trying to make the Citizens Committees into a tool of his widely expected campaign for president.