WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Edmund Muskie says the Soviet Union appears to be looking for a 'more stable, less confrontational' relationship with the United States.
In an interview published Sunday in the New York Times, Muskie said President-elect Ronald Reagan will face some 'front-burner' problems when he takes office Jan. 20.
They include ending the Iran-Iraq war before oil prices rise, the Middle East negotiations and a 'dangerous' labor situation in Poland.
But Muskie said the new administration will be dealing with the Soviet Union at a time when it is ready to seek better relations.
'They are looking for a more stable, less confrontational relationship with the United States,' he was quoted as saying.
Several signs point to this change, including Soviet 'restraint' in Poland and the Iran-Iraq war, and conciliatory statements toward Reagan, Muskie said.
During the presidential campaign, President Carter said he would seek Senate approval for the pending SALT II treaty, while Reagan said he would try to negotiate a new strategic arms limitation pact.
Muskie said in the interview, if President Carter had been re-elected, his administration might have wound up negotiating a new treaty despite its campaign position.
'There was no assurance that if we won the election that we'd have the constituency to ratify the strategic arms limitation treaty,' Muskie said. 'We conceivably would have had to suggest to the Russians that, in order to get the votes, we ought to look at the treaty again to seeif there were ways of making it more acceptable to our side that they could accept also.'
Muskie also repeated his criticism of Zbigniew Brzezinski's role as national security adviser in the administration.
'I expect the new administration will make changes in the running of foreign policy,' Muskie said. 'They're quite aware that this situation did President Carter no good.
'The national security adviser ought not to have a press officer. And he ought not to give press backgrounders. He ought not to be dealing with representatives of foreign governments in an official way,' Muskie said.