The visiting Soviet foreign minister Tuesday called Beijing's granting of concessionary credit to Moscow the fruit of warming relations, saying reports linking the aid to arms sales were "too simplistic."

Foreign Minister Alexander Bessmertnykh, touring the Great Wall outside Beijing on the first balmy day of spring, told reporters the $715 million commodity loan was China's expression of gratitude for Soviet aid extended four decades ago."The Chinese have demonstrated their willingness to provide some credit for goods," Bessmertnykh said.

"This was also done as a gesture of friendship because, as the prime minister told us yesterday, they remember the assistance and help that was provided by the Soviet people to the Chinese people in the 1940s and 1950s," he said.

"This was a kind of reciprocity gesture," Bessmertnykh said of the loan. "We appreciate it very much."

The credit, extended last month on what Chinese Communist Party officials called "favorable terms," will be used to ship surplus Chinese food, textiles, tobacco and consumer goods to the foundering Soviet Union.

Hard-line Premier Li Peng told Bessmertnykh Monday that China wanted to express gratitude for credits Moscow extended to Beijing during the first days of the Communist People's Republic.

But Li also hinted the loan represented Beijing's hope that the Soviet Union survive as a socialist power.

Bessmertnykh downplayed, but did not expressly deny, reports circulating in Beijing's diplomatic community that China's largesse was linked to getting a bargain-basement price on Soviet jet fighters.