MOSCOW, March 15, 1985 (UPI) - World leaders came away from talks with new Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev last week impressed with the new dynamism in the Kremlin, a quality that will not necessarily prove comfortable for the West.
The new Communist Party general secretary struck foreign leaders attending the funeral of President Konstantin Chernenko with his affability, openness, quick intelligence and his clear ascendancy over the other nine full members of the ruling Politburo.
The outward charm may cloak a tough interior.
''You don't get to the head of the Politburo by being a choirboy,'' commented former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
In his first public speech following Chernenko's death March 10, Gorbachev stressed the need for discipline at home and a strong defense of Soviet interests abroad.
Nonetheless, foreign leaders, including even such a capitalist ideologue as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, described Gorbachev as balanced and open to ideas.
Some diplomats said Gorbachev might initially leave day-to-day dealings with the West largely in the hands of veteran Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko while he concentrates on whipping the lagging Soviet economy into shape.
At the same time, however, signs point to an active foreign policy role by Gorbachev, who moved quickly to put his stamp on Soviet policy in the superpower arms reduction talks that resumed in Geneva last week.
Viktor Karpov, the head Soviet delegate at the talks, disclosed that Gorbachev presided over the meeting at which the Soviet negotiators received their final instructions in the days prior to Chernenko's death.
''Activism in foreign affairs policy is the way to assert authority in the Soviet Union,'' said the French newspaper Le Monde. ''The new leader, in contrast to his two predecessors, has the physical capacity to do so, to show himself in public and to create a personality cult.''
In meetings with leaders who visited Moscow for Chernenko's funeral, Gorbachev lashed into Pakistani President Mohammed Zia ul-Haq for allowing his country to be used as a base for anti-Soviet operations in Afghanistan, according to an official account of their meeting.
Gorbachev also accepted invitations to visit France and West Germany and received an invitation to meet President Reagan. There was no official disclosure regarding his response to Reagan.
The invitation to a summit was conveyed during a meeting Gorbachev had with Vice President George Bush and Secretary of State George Shultz, who described the Soviet leader as ''capable and energetic'' and ''well-informed and well-prepared'' in meetings.
''Whether it turns out we can do business with him remains to be seen,'' said Shultz.
Gorbachev's quick acceptance of invitations to France and West Germany indicate he intends to involve Western Europe closely in Soviet foreign policy rather than concentrating only on the superpower relationship.
French President Francois Mitterrand, after meeting Gorbachev, said he was ''direct and precise'' and predicted he will ''seize world situations with great boldness.''
Whether that boldness will be accompanied by greater flexibility toward the West is uncertain.
The Soviet Politburo, which catapulted its youngest member into power, rules collectively, and nothing suggests any mellowing of the gray septuagenarians and sexagenarians who stand behind the 54-year-old Gorbachev.
''It would be foolish to think he will be any mellower, or any more reasonable, toward the West than others running Russia,'' said the London Daily Telegraph. ''Nothing he has said or done so far suggests the system has thrown up a reformer.''
But the style may be more suave, and in a world dominated by images, that already counts for a lot. In fact, in the symbol-conscious Soviet Union, a change of style already amounts to a change of substance.
Western leaders who met Gorbachev encountered a skillful negotiator.
"Gorbachev is a commanding, well-informed, strong man," said West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. ''He has a natural authority, but at the same time he can hold up for his interests firmly and coldly.''