Secretary of State George P. Shultz, in remarks broadcast on Soviet television, accused the Soviet Union on Wednesday of "obsessive" spying on U.S. diplomats in Moscow.
"You're always watching, you're always pressing," he said. "It gets to be so obsessive."
With mild sarcasm, he praised Soviet technicians for the excellence of their eavesdropping work, saying: "I went through the new (U.S. Embassy) building, and I could see with my own eyes what you have done there. We have to have a lot of respect for Soviet technical ability. . . . You do a good job."
His blunt remarks were made in a Moscow interview at the end of his three-day visit to Moscow.
Shultz came here in the wake of an uproar in Washington over reports of a sex-and-spying scandal involving U.S. Marine security guards at the embassy and disclosures that the unfinished new embassy building was honeycombed with electronic listening devices.
President Reagan said the Kremlin had gone too far with its spying in Moscow, but Soviet officials countered with a display of U.S. bugging devices that they said they found in Soviet missions in the United States.
Shultz said at a news conference Wednesday that he and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev had exchanged "strong views" Tuesday about each other's intelligence-gathering techniques but had come to no agreement.
The televised interview with Shultz was the second in recent weeks that allowed an important Western official to present views that are rarely heard publicly in the Soviet Union.
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher recently startled Soviet viewers by charging that the Kremlin controlled more nuclear missiles than any other nation and was modernizing its chemical arms.
She was interviewed by a panel of three journalists who repeatedly tried to interrupt her as she presented her views. The panel later came under fire from critics who accused them of rudeness and of failure to effectively counter Thatcher's views.
Shultz was interviewed by a single journalist who treated his guest with deference throughout.
Shultz was also blunt on the subject of Afghanistan, where Soviet troops have been fighting rebels opposed to the Moscow-backed government since 1979.
"The Afghan people are fighting," Shultz said. "They don't want you there."
Shultz rejected a suggestion by the interviewer that the United States is supplying the guerrillas with weapons in order to extend its influence in the area.
"We have no interest in Afghanistan," Shultz said. "We want peace in Afghanistan."