WASHINGTON -- Former President Richard Nixon says annual superpower summits could help control the pace of arm sales to Third World nountries, but will do little to resolve 'irreconcilable differences' between the United States and Soviet Union.
Nixon, in an article to appear in the fall issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, said it is foolish to think summits can produce a new spirit of friendliness in foreign policy.
'Spirit and tone matter only when two leaders of nations with similar interests have a misunderstanding that can be resolved by their getting to know each other,' Nixon wrote. 'Such factors are irrelevant when nations have irreconcilable differences, which is the case as far as the United States and the Soviet Union are concerned.'
He said President Reagan can 'do business' with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, 'but only if we recognize that the business we have to deal with involves intractable differences between competitive states.'
Nixon said annual summits, even if they don't produce major agreements, can be useful because the leaders 'will understand each other's interests, respect each other's strength and know the limits beyond which they cannot go without running the risk of an armed conflict.'
Such annual summits, he wrote, are an incentive for good behavior because both sides will want to avoid conduct that might poison the atmosphere before the yearly meetings.
He said summits have the side benefit of being 'a very useful tool to get a bureaucracy moving. The Soviet bureaucracy is notoriously and maddeningly slow, rigid and inflexible. The U.S. bureaucracy is not free of such faults.'
Nixon said regular summits also could be used for:
-- Controlling competitition to sell arms to the Third World. In additon to the crushing expense, he wrote, 'For the Soviet Union to arm India, while the United States arms Pakistan, can only end in tragedy for the people of both nations.'
-- Cooling down flash points around the world, such as Central America. 'We must make it clear to the Soviets that military adventurism will destroy the chances for better relations between the United States and the Soviet Union.'
-- Asking the Soviets to join in a declaration that terrorists, and those who aid them, are guilty of an international crime and will be punished accordingly.
When he was President, Nixon put the idea of annual summits into practice in his second term, meeting his Soviet counterpart, Leonid Brezhnev, in 1972, 1973 and 1974.
Nixon said he has come to the conclusion that cultural exchange and person-to-person programs he once supported have little or no impact on improving relations between the superpowers. ''Getting to know you' is not the issue between the Soviet Union and the United States,' he said.
Human rights, he said, should be taken up with the Soviets at the summit, but only privately, since public exposure of the alleged abuses in the Soviet Union have a counterproductive impact on such things as Jewish emigration.
Adv 6 p.m.