Both sides stand pat in Kohl-Andropov summit
The first East-West summit under Yuri Andropov has ended with each side firm on its rival arms control stand, and with most diplomats' attention focused on the Soviet leader's health.
Visiting West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Mr. Andropov repeated their respective positions on the deadlocked Geneva ''Euro-missile'' talks, only a few months before new United States missiles are slated for deployment in Western Europe if no Geneva compromise emerges.
Mr. Andropov also repeated a Soviet warning of countermeasures if the new US arms go in, though apparently he spoke in less explicit terms than did a formal Soviet government statement of a month ago.
But at least so far - with Chancellor Kohl scheduled to give a news conference today at which further details on the talks could conceivably emerge - the visit has been overshadowed by diplomatic speculation on the state of the Soviet leader's health.
Mr. Andropov met the German chancellor for talks Tuesday, after having skipped the previous day's scheduled summitry for reasons of health. He was described by West German sources as seeming physically strained but mentally alert and agile.
Similar reports on his condition followed a similar delay, in late February, of a meeting here between Mr. Andropov and French Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson. The Soviet leader also looked weak during talks a month ago with the visiting President of Finland, Mauno Koivisto, Scandinavian sources said at the time.
With the caveat that foreign diplomats here can merely guess at such questions as a Soviet leader's health, the current consensus is that whatever afflicts Mr. Andropov is at least so far more sapping than incapacitating.
In any case, Andropov was expected to leave Moscow for summer vacation sometime before the end of July.
The early message of substance from his talks with Mr. Kohl, meanwhile, seems to be that both Moscow and the West want to convey firmness on their Geneva positions in the countdown to the new US missile deployments.
Both Andropov and Kohl opted for a stand-patness on that question that eschewed both carrot and stick.
The ironically identical signal from both men was: We want a compromise that will cancel the US deployment plans, but you're the one who must bend if this is going to happen.
Still, both sides also seemed intent on avoiding unnecessarily severe damage to an overall Moscow-Bonn dialogue that formed the basis of the European detente in the 1970s.
A senior Soviet official told the Monitor on the eve of Kohl's arrival that a ''certain chill'' in relations with West Germany was inevitable in light of the Euromissile dispute. But he added: ''We won't break any dishes'' over it.
The open question was how Soviet strategy on the missile question would evolve as the year-end Western deployment target approached.
All signs in the Kohl talks suggested the Kremlin is determined not to be bullied into a softened position in Geneva by the calendar.
This specifically applies to a key bone of contention: Whether 162 British and French missiles, independent and not under NATO control, should be counted in the balance. The West says no. Moscow says yes.
Andropov, the Soviet news agency said, told Kohl that the West would be wrong to expect ''concessions'' from Moscow - even after the US missiles are deployed.
''If things come to deployment, we will neither surrender our positions nor weaken our defenses, but take prompt and effective measures in response to ensure the security of the USSR and its allies.''
But he stopped short of repeating an explicit Soviet warning May 28 of ''further measures to deploy additional weapons'' in consultation with its allies.
Soviet officials stressed privately that the warning still stood - though an arms control specialist made clear that any new nuclear arms in Eastern Europe would be under Soviet, not East European, control.
A possible explavx zO MoO Andropov's omission of detail seemed to be that Moscow does not want utterly to abandon the carrot on the Euromissile issue and sough to avoid overly tough statements at present.
No foreign diplomat sees any sign that the Kremlin is readying a major rollback on its position. But some suspect Moscow may make some further adjustment in its stand as planned US deployment nears - perhaps, as an ambassador puts it, ''then suggesting deployment be delayed, on the grounds negotiations should not be jeopardized at a time when progress is just starting to seem possible.''