WASHINGTON — The White House today defended President Reagan's decision to retain Max M. Kampelman as the U.S. chief arms control negotiator, while the Soviet ambassador said Moscow does not intend to engage in a "propagandistic duel" over the issue.
Confirming that he had urged the Reagan Administration to name a higher-level negotiator, Ambassador Yuli Dubinin said: "We did not send any arrows against anyone personally. This is not our position."
Whoever is at the table when the talks reopen Thursday in Geneva to reduce nuclear weapons, "the main thing is going to be the results," Dubinin said at a news conference at the Soviet Embassy.
Earlier, at the White House, presidential spokesman Larry Speakes said he hopes that the dispute "is not an excuse by the Soviets to avoid serious discussions."
He told reporters, "On the part of the United States, we are ready for those serious discussions."
New Soviet Negotiator
The issue was raised last week when Dubinin notified Assistant Secretary of State Rozanne L. Ridgway that Moscow was naming a new chief negotiator, Yuli Vorontsov, to replace Viktor P. Karpov.
Vorontsov is also the first deputy foreign minister. The Soviets called on the Reagan Administration to match the move.
On Monday, Reagan announced that he was naming Kampelman the State Department counselor and would keep him on as the chief U.S. negotiator.
Dubinin said the Soviets gave their "political reasons" for trying to elevate the negotiator to the level of first deputy foreign minister. But, he said, "we do not want to make the subject some kind of propagandistic duel."
In the U.S. diplomatic hierarchy there is no position exactly matching that of Vorontsov. Deputy Secretary of State John C. Whitehead and Under Secretary of State Michael H. Armacost are at roughly comparable levels.