So far, European and american reactions to Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev's latest foreign policy statement are in phase. Both sides of the Atlantic are giving a cautious welcome to the Soviet willingness to continue SALT talks and extend the European area of conventional arms control to cover more Soviet territory. Both have limited expectations about the likely fruits of East-West negotiations.
Later on there will be room for differing interpretations of Soviet seriousness in negotiations as positions are worked out. But for now the US and its NATO allies are united. President Reagan signaled his readiness to talk with the Russians in an interview with the French newspaper, Le Figaro, just before Brezhnev's keynote address to the Soviet Communist Party congress. It was a gesture Western Europeans welcomed.
And a week ago the US finally supported, at the Madrid conference on European security, an earlier French proposal for a European disarmament conference. This shared Western readiness to explore the possibilities of mutual arms restraint -- plus the implicit continued Soviet threat to Poland -- pulls the allies together tactically as well as strategically.
In his speech Brezhnev made little overt appeal to the Europeans to define their interests differently from those of the United States. In his tour d'horizonm Brezhnev freely criticized Great Britain. He described Soviet relations with West Germany as having "developed advantageously on the whole." He added the routine warning to West Germany, however, to be careful about West Berlin.
Among capitalist states Brezhnev's warmest words were reserved for France as he praised the policies of President Valery Giscard d'Estaing.