Soviet and American nuclear arms control negotiators met Thursday for two hours at the U.S. delegation headquarters to clear away most of the procedural arrangements and will move on to detailed negotiations next week.
"At the risk of a cliche, it was a businesslike session conducted in an atmosphere of mutual respect," said American spokesman Joseph F. Lehman of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. "We look forward to future sessions and development of further positions in pursuit of agreement."
More than 40 people from the two sides were crowded into the conference room for this second session of the talks, with Max M. Kampelman in charge for the United States and Viktor P. Karpov for the Soviets. "Substantive statements" were said to have been exchanged, but they reportedly stated general positions with no surprises and, as one conference source put it, "no traumas."
It was agreed to hold another session at the Soviet Mission in this Swiss city on Tuesday.
The two delegations also agreed to work out a schedule to start separate negotiating sessions next week on the three areas to be covered by the talks: strategic nuclear weapons, intermediate-range missiles, and defensive weapons,--including President Reagan's space-based "Star Wars" system.
Each set of talks will be conducted by separate negotiating teams, and it is in these sessions that most of the basic work of the conference will take place.
American delegation sources expressed satisfaction that the procedural agreement to move ahead and activate the separate negotiating teams came so quickly and smoothly. There had been concern that the Soviets would use procedural arguments over how to organize the conference to force the issue of "interrelationship" of the separate sets of talks and to demand priority for the "Star Wars" issue before getting down to cases on the other subjects.
The issue of interrelationship is not settled, sources said, but it appeared Thursday that it is not going to delay the start of negotiations. However, it seems clear that at some point the Soviets will probably refuse to budge on any reductions or limitations on nuclear missiles until agreement is reached on defensive systems in space.
Details of a working schedule for the three different negotiations are still being discussed by the executive directors of the two delegations. In part this is a logistical problem of space and conference rooms. There probably will be two meetings each week of each of the three negotiating teams, but each delegation has only one meeting room. Therefore, a schedule of transfers from one site to another needs to be worked out.
The Americans also expect that big plenary sessions such as took place Thursday will be less frequent, partly because they tend to be so unwieldy. The Soviets on the other hand may want to have more plenary sessions in order to emphasize the interrelationship of the three negotiations.
Kampelman will be handling the detailed negotiations on space weaponry and his opposite number will be Yuli A. Kvitsinsky, who previously was in charge of the talks on intermediate-range nuclear forces that the Soviets broke off 15 months ago.
Karpov will be handling the strategic weapons talks for the Soviets, facing American negotiator John Tower, a former U.S. senator from Texas. Intermediate-range weaponry will be dealt with by U.S. career diplomat Maynard W. Glitman and Soviet negotiator Alexei A. Obukhov.
About an hour of Thursday's session was taken up by statements and translations, with Karpov leading off and Kampelman following. Each statement dealt in general terms with each country's position and aims in the three areas. There was then another hour of general discussion.
There was a "seriousness of purpose" according to Lehman, the U.S. spokesman, but he added that it was much too early to tell how the generalized opening discussions would translate into specifics of negotiations.
"At this stage we are trying to find out where we might go. There are a lot of complex issues and there is a lot of exploring to do," Lehman said.