The Soviet Union has adopted a slightly more delicate public approach toward China, amid reports of planned ''exploratory'' talks between the estranged communist giants.
Western news reports from Peking say the talks, which Moscow has been seeking , are expected to begin in October, although there has been no announcement of this in either capital.
In remarks to Western colleagues, Chinese diplomats here have cautioned against reading too much into the Soviets' recent public line toward China. The Chinese point out that Moscow has yet to signal any change on the main substantive issues dividing the two countries or to release any high-level assessment of the recent Chinese Communist Party congress.
The Chinese congress, which adopted a somewhat more evenhanded public line on Peking's relations with Moscow and Washington, has also failed so far to curb Soviet criticism of Chinese foreign policy in Chinese-language radio commentaries.
Still, there have been signs of what a Western diplomat terms a ''generally more cautious, more delicate handling of the Chinese'' in what the Kremlin is telling its own people about the Peking congress.
On Sept. 19, Alexander Bovin of Izvestia, one of the Soviet Union's most influential foreign-policy analysts, delivered a televised commentary quoting various Western news media reports that hinted at a possible Chinese-Soviet rapprochement in the wake of the Peking party congress. He said the Soviets continue to desire better relations with China and concluded that time would tell whether the Chinese congress would boost such a process.