VIENNA — British, French and U.S. officials charged at the opening of a 35-nation conference here Tuesday that the Soviet Union and its allies continue to violate their citizens' human rights.
British Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Howe and Jean-Bernard Raimond, his French counterpart, made their charges in keynote speeches at the conference reviewing compliance with the 1975 Helsinki accords on European security and cooperation.
Warren Zimmerman, the chief U.S. representative, also told a news conference that the Soviets' human rights performance is "dismal."
Howe rarely mentioned the Soviet Union by name, but most of his comments seemed directed at Moscow.
'Bleak Human Landscape'
"We have held meetings about human rights and human contacts which have sadly illuminated a bleak human landscape," he said. "Families remain divided. Individuals who do not conform are brought ruthlessly to heel. Religious believers are harassed. Would-be immigrants are denied fundamental rights.
"We salute those, like (Soviet dissident) Andrei Sakharov, who keep alight the flame of human spirit. And we remember those whose names are not well known but whose lot is one of daily harassment, labor camps, exile or prison. While these things are so, it will remain impossible to establish full confidence between our states."
In an indirect reference to the Soviet Bloc, Raimond denounced unspecified countries that "constantly oppose the freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, religion or conviction, the freedom of unions."
"How can one pretend to respect the liberty of individuals when the right to leave their country is refused to those who ask for it?--and I am thinking in particular of Jewish communities," he said, in another allusion to the Soviet Union.
Two Issues Linked
Both Raimond and Howe tied the reduction of the threat of armed conflict in Europe to closer Soviet Bloc compliance with human rights provisions contained in the Helsinki Final Act, which was signed by the United States, Canada, the Soviet Union and all European nations except Albania.
Howe said "confidence is indivisible" and respect for human rights "cannot be divorced" from questions of security and peace.
"Security cannot exist where mistrust and suspicion reign," Howe said. "As of now, too many commitments are honored in the breach."
But at a bilateral meeting with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze, Howe made little headway on either human rights or arms control issues.
Howe told a news conference that he urged the Soviets to move forward with the United States on a separate agreement to reduce or eliminate all medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe and that he told Shevardnadze it is "illogical to make such a European agreement conditional on an American commitment to curtail its Strategic Defense Initiative program"--the "Star Wars" project.
'Package of Reductions'
Howe said that Shevardnadze "made it plain that they are insisting on a single package of reductions in intermediate and strategic missiles and an agreement on SDI."
Secretary of State George P. Shultz is to arrive in Vienna from Washington this morning. He and Shevardnadze will address the delegates before meeting on arms control in the late afternoon. They will meet again Thursday morning, and Thursday afternoon is open if they need more time.
The hope on the American side, according to high officials here, is that the two foreign secretaries will be able to agree on instructions for the negotiating teams in Geneva--where arms control talks are in progress--to begin sorting out the problems left over from the summit meeting last month in Iceland.
Howe indicated that as far as the Europeans are concerned, not all is entirely clear on the subject of arms control. He told reporters that the Europeans, while accepting the concept of eliminating medium-range missiles from Europe, will also expect the superpowers to agree on limits for short-range Soviet missiles in Europe.
Cuts in Two Areas
Further, he said, "we cannot have deep cuts in missiles without reaching a point where we will also need an agreement on reductions in conventional Soviet forces."
Howe said his speech "was not a formal linkage" of the issues of arms control and human rights, but "in the all-embracing nature of the Helsinki process, security cannot be divorced from the political, economic and human aspects of relations between states."