HELSINKI, Finland — Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze today exchanged sharp criticism during their first public meeting but called on each other to make new efforts to defuse tension between the superpowers.
"Pious declarations are cheap," Shultz said in an attack on the Soviet Union's treatment of dissidents. "Real progress can only be seen in its effect on human beings."
Speaking at a 10-year celebration of the Helsinki accords on human rights and security, Shultz told the foreign ministers of 34 nations that "no one can deny the gap between hope and performance" on human rights in the past decade.
He charged the Soviet Union and its East European allies had violated the accords by jailing people who exercise their human rights and cited Soviet Jews, Polish Solidarity trade unionists and others whom he said were "convicted on obviously trumped-up criminal charges."
Shevardnadze, preceding Shultz, accused the United States of hampering efforts to control the arms race. He rejected American criticism of his country's record on human rights.
In the 1975 Helsinki agreement, the Western democracies tacitly accepted the post-World War II borders in Eastern Europe that expanded Moscow's military and political influence.
In exchange, the Soviets agreed to a freer flow of people and ideas.
The agreement brought "limited progress" in easing travel by journalists between East and West and reuniting families across the Iron Curtain, Shultz said.
But, Shultz said, "the most important promises have not been kept."
Specifically, he said, Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union has dwindled from more than 51,000 in 1975 to 896 last year, with the same "regrettable trend" for German and Armenian nationals.
More than 20 Soviets married to Americans have been denied exit visas, and Soviet monitors of the Helsinki Agreement have been sent to jails and labor camps, Shultz said.
Since last July, he said, at least 16 Jewish cultural activists, including nine Hebrew teachers, have been arrested. Many Christians, Muslims and other religious leaders also were sentenced, he said.
The secretary of state said Vladimir Klebanov's efforts in the Soviet Union to found a free trade union put him in a psychiatric hospital for four years, and noted the continued internal exile of Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov, "the man who more than any other represents the ideals" of the Helsinki agreement.
Shevardnadze, who was named foreign minister July 2 replacing Andrei A. Gromyko, told the foreign ministers in Finlandia Hall that the United States was trying to challenge treaties on both offensive weapons and anti-missile systems.
"In other words, what has been accumulated through great effort in curbing and restraining the arms race is being written off," the 57-year-old minister said.
Shevardnadze, responding to Western attacks on Soviet treatment of dissidents and internal critics, said, "Our country has not and will not allow anyone to interfere into its internal affairs."
Calls for Cooperation
But his accusations were coupled with conciliatory calls for cooperation.
"If it proves possible by joint effort to dispel thunderclouds here," he said, "the sun shines brighter for everyone."
Shultz, who is scheduled to meet with Shevardnadze on Wednesday, said he expected to use the meeting to lay the groundwork for a summit in November between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev.
"Let our two countries begin the patient, serious work of resolving problems and reaching agreements of benefit to us both, and to other countries as well," Shultz said.