World leaders praise Brezhnev's role in detente

The death of Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev drew condolences today from President Reagan, silence from Russia's ideological rival, China, and an outpouring of praise from world leaders for his role as a key architect of detente.

Governments around the world watched Moscow for its first move after Brezhnev's death Wednesday and international gold and money markets went wild on the official Soviet announcement more than 26 hours later.


At the White House, Reagan used a Veterans Day ceremony to offer condolences to the Soviet Union and said he believes the American and Soviet people "share a dedication to peace."

He said the United States has "a strong desire" to work with the Kremlin's new leadership to better U.S.-Soviet relations.

"Let the world understand our purpose is not conflict, but deterrence; not war, but peace. We shall never flag in pursuit of a more peaceful world. Our goal is peace."


Secretary of State George Shultz said in a condolence message to Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko the United States hopes to continue efforts to improve relations.

French President Francois Mitterrand spoke warmly of Brezhnev as "a great leader of the Soviet Union, a statesman whose eminent role in the world will be remembered by history."

Both British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Queen Elizabeth II sent condolences to the Soviet Cabinet, with the prime minister stressing Brezhnev's wide-ranging experience would be a "serious loss to the Soviet Union" and its consequences felt around the world.

Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who visited the Soviet Union in September, said Brezhnev's policies of detente "enabled the community of nations to overcome many difficult crises. The history of the last two decades bears his impress."

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos said Brezhnev's death ended "an 18-year period of leadership marked by much stability in the Soviet Union's political life" and hoped his successor would pursue a policy of international cooperation.

Former President Gerald Ford, who negotiated with Brezhnev in Vladivostok and Helsinki, said he hoped the Soviet leader's death "will not lead to a wide swing in Soviet policies."

Former West German Chancellor Willy Brandt, a major advocate of detente, said Brezhnev "held Soviet policy on a course of detente and cooperation" and urged Western governments to avoid a policy of confrontation with Moscow following the Soviet leader's death.


Members of the West German Bundestag interrupted a budget debate to stand in silence for a minute.

In China, which recently resumed talks with Moscow on restoring their strained relations, the Xinhua news agency reported Brezhnev's death in a one-line announcement and made no comment.

Analysts said China was debating what level of representatives it wanted to attend the funeral.

In neighboring Hong Kong, bullion market buyers, panicked by the prospect of political instability, pushed the price of gold up $8 in the 30 minutes between the announcement and the close of trading. The metal closed at $410 an ounce.

Eastern European capitals went into mourning, with flags flying at half staff and radio and television broadcasts altered programming to pay tribute to the dead Soviet leader.

In East Berlin, crowds thronged the Soviet Embassy on the tree-lined Unter den Linden to express condolences. Erich Honecker, the East German president and party leader, praised Brezhnev's "great contribution' to the Soviet bloc's 'brotherly federation.'"

In Poland, the state-run radio did not change its programs, which were already broadcasting serious music to mark the anniversary of Poland's independent statehood.

But a Polish government spokesman said Brezhnev's death was a "great loss ... because [he] was during his entire time of leadership an ardent supporter of good, constructive relations."


Czechoslovak authorities ordered flags to be flown at half staff "until further notice" and national radio programs were replaced by serious music.

In non-aligned Yugoslavia, which split from the Soviet camp in 1948, Mika Spiljak, chairing Thursday's opening session of the Yugoslav Trade Union Congress said Brezhnev and late Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito "contributed to the development of friendly relations and cooperation."

In Italy, the first official reaction of "profound regret" at Brezhnev's death came from Cabinet leaders meeting to discuss the resignation of Prime Minister Giovanni Spadolini's 2-month-old government.

French Communist Party leader Georges Marchais said history would remember Brezhnev for his "will during tumultuous circumstances to avoid a world war."

Piet Dankert, speaker of the Strasbourg-based European parliament, said he hoped the new Soviet leadership "will move to greater cooperation and understanding with its Western neighbors, particularly in matters of disarmament and human rights."

Former Secretary of State Alexander Haig, who conducted U.S. relations with the Soviets for years, said the United States "must merely conduct [its] policies as usual" and not hope to influence the choice of Brezhnev's successor.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, who served as President Carter's national security adviser, said U.S. foreign policy "must focus the attention of the Soviet leaders in a more constructive fashion."


Dean Rusk, Secretary of State under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, said: "For the time being I would think we would be in a holding pattern."

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