Ambassador Max M. Kampelman said on his arrival here Saturday that the United States is "ready to help build a bridge to a more constructive relationship with the Soviet Union" in nuclear arms talks that resume on Tuesday after a break of 15 months.
"The differences between the United States and the Soviet Union are profound. Our differences on the issues of nuclear arms are deep and deeply held. It would be folly to expect them to be bridged overnight," Kampelman said in an airport statement in the chill Geneva dawn. "But at least we can hope that our overall objectives are the same."
The American delegation, totaling about 90 people, including secretaries and administrative backup personnel for three negotiating teams, arrived in two special Air Force planes. They have a weekend to settle in before work begins. The Soviet delegation will arrive this morning.
Kampelman is a veteran of almost four years of talks with the Soviets in Madrid from 1979 to 1983 at the conference reviewing the Helsinki European security agreements, but he faces a far more complex political and strategic task in Geneva. His long suit, demonstrated in Madrid, is a deep conviction about the necessity of keeping a dialogue with the Soviet Union going, along with patience and a readiness as he has put it "to sit at the table one day longer than they are prepared to sit."
"President Reagan has instructed me to spare no effort in seeking to negotiate fair and equitable agreements," he said. "We are looking forward to our discussions with our Soviet counterparts. We are ready to listen positively and patiently to their ideas. Furthermore, we understand that a dialogue is more than two monologues."
Kampelman will be presiding over three negotiations that are supposed to go forward more or less in parallel, although this is one of the many difficulties that will have to be ironed out in the days ahead. Separate teams will be dealing with strategic nuclear weapons, intermediate-range weapons based in Europe and space-based systems, including President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, nicknamed "Star Wars." The latter, which Kampelman himself will be handling, is the most controversial problem of all.
A first order of business Tuesday will simply be to decide how work is to be organized, how the three different teams from each side will meet and how overall coordination at the top will be conducted.
In expressing the hope that both sides have the same overall objective in the talks, Kampelman quoted Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei A. Gromyko's recent statement that "complete elimination of nuclear weapons should become the highest goal of all the states of the world." Kampelman said: "That is clearly America's goal. We have come to Geneva to take the initial constructive and business-like steps which can lead to a goal of peace with dignity that all of our peoples seek."
A party of American senators, led by Majority Leader Robert J. Dole (R. Kan.), arrived in Geneva late Saturday night, and a group of congressmen will arrive Monday.