House Democratic leaders, citing a "historic opportunity" to reduce world tensions, Wednesday urged President Reagan to seek a broad array of agreements at his summit meeting next week with Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev.
"This is a good-will gesture" of support for Reagan, Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (Mass.) said in presenting a six-page statement with Armed Services Committee Chairman Les Aspin (Wis.) and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Dante B. Fascell (Fla.).
But one Democratic aide said privately that the move was "meant to raise expectations" for the Geneva summit--in clear contrast to the Administration's low-key approach. And another source close to the leaders said that the statement was intended to serve as a scorecard against which progress at the meeting could be measured.
O'Neill, Aspin and Fascell rejected these interpretations at a joint news conference, however. Later, in remarks on the floor of the House, the Speaker drew a standing ovation from members of both parties as he castigated a New York Times report that the Democrats' support of the President was politically tinged and was intended to place the responsibility solely on Reagan if the summit were viewed as a failure.
"That is absolutely and totally wrong. . . the figment of somebody's imagination," O'Neill declared.
At the White House, spokesman Larry Speakes indicated lingering doubt about the Democrats' motives, however. "We're almost certain that the Speaker wished the President well going to Geneva, but there's a lot in there that doesn't make sense," Speakes said.
He added: "We're not going to play partisan politics, Democrat versus Republican, on the summit. We're just not going to get into that game."
Aspin said the Democratic statement sent this message: "Mr. President, we support you. We believe there is an opportunity to accomplish something. Here's our list of recommendations of things that are important to discuss."
"As congressional Democratic leaders," the statement said, "we pledge in a bipartisan fashion our willingness to help implement any agreement that . . . reduces the threat of a nuclear conflict, lessens tensions between our two countries and promotes peace and freedom in the world."
In the area of arms control, the Democrats said they hope the summit will include:
--Reaffirmation of U.S. policy "not to undercut existing strategic nuclear agreements as long as the Soviets reciprocate."
--Agreement to resume discussions on a verifiable comprehensive nuclear test ban.
--Reaffirmation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, with agreement that research be allowed--but testing, development and deployment be prohibited--on a missile defense system such as Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative, commonly known as "Star Wars."
--Agreement to resume negotiations toward a ban on production and use of chemical weapons.
--Agreement to continue efforts toward halting testing and development of anti-satellite weapons.
Helsinki, Poland, Jews
On the issue of human rights, the Democratic leaders urged Reagan to press Gorbachev to comply with the Helsinki accords, to end repression in Poland and to allow the emigration of Soviet Jews and dissidents such as Andrei D. Sakharov and Anatoly Shcharansky.
The Democrats also called on Reagan to press for the end of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, for improved hot lines to reduce the risk of accidental nuclear war, for more cooperation in fighting terrorism and for a curbing of arms transfers to other nations.
Finally, the Democrats recommended more educational, cultural, scientific and technological exchanges, resumption of direct airline service between the United States and the Soviet Union and an exchange of consulates in Kiev and New York.