How 'summit' response affects US allies, Poland
Soviet President Brezhnev's summit proposal was only one of a number of ideas put forth by the Soviet leader that intrigue US policymakers. But American officials say it will take time to determine what, if anything, is worthwhile in the Brezhnev proposals.
In the meantime, the US is stressing its interest in the proposals, ambigous though some of them may be.
The relatively positive official American response to the Brezhnev speech of Feb. 23 has been required in part to reassure America's European allies. Some of the allies are concerned over the hard-line rhetoric which Washington has directed recently at the Soviet Union. They want to maintain some semblance of East-West detente.
Most foreign affairs experts seem to agree that for the Reagan administration to reject the Brezhnev proposal for a US- Soviet summit meeting out of hand would be, if nothing else, a terrible public relations mistake. But the new administration is far from ready for a summit. It must, therefore, find a balance. It must express interest in the Brezhnev summit proposal while not committing itself to anything, at least at this stage.
President Reagan expressed his interest in the Soviet summit proposal on Feb. 24, declaring: "I wouldn't try to guess what's in their thinking, but let's just say I found it very interesting."
What is most intriguing to some specialists is what the Brezhnev speech may portend for Poland. Some of them think that by extending an olive branch to President Reagan, President Brezhnev may be precluding the possibility of any Soviet invasion of Poland for the near future. Only a few weeks ago, some Washington press reports made it sound as though the administration considered a Soviet invasion imminent. Official spokesmen denied that this was the case.
On Feb. 23, Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. declared that the Brezhnev speech to the Congress of the Soviet Communist Party contained some "new and remarkable innovations." Earlier administration reaction had been less positive. Although Mr. Haig did not explain what he meant by innovations, other officials later said he was referring first of all to Brezhnev's apparent approval of French proposals to extend so-called confidence-building measures concerning Soviet military maneuvers all the way to the Ural Mountains.