WASHINGTON (AP) _ The United States and Germany called on the NATO alliance today to establish formal links with the Soviet Union to promote democratic reform.

The proposal is to be taken up in early November at the NATO summit meeting in Rome that President Bush will attend along with leaders of the 15 other allied countries.

''Promoting democratic institutions and reform in the East complements the maintenance of a common defense in ensuring our security,'' Secretary of State James A. Baker III and German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher said in a joint statement. The two men met at the State Department on Wednesday.

Their statement was issued on the first anniversary of the unification of East and West Germany, which accelerated the end of the Cold War.

NATO responded by establishing informal ties to the former Soviet allies in the now-disbanded Warsaw Pact. Senior Soviet officials, meanwhile, visited NATO headquarters in Brussels.

Baker and Genscher, in their joint statement, proposed going further.

If approved by NATO, there would be regular meetings among the 16 allies and the East European countries, possibly as a ''North Atlantic Cooperation Council.''

Also, the links now in place with former Soviet allies would be extended to the Soviet Union itself. This would mean Soviet officials would participate in some NATO meetings to plan Europe's future.

Additionally, Baker and Genscher said, NATO should consider opening information offices in Eastern capitals and working with the Eastern governments on disaster relief and refugee programs.

On the nuclear weapons front, Baker and Genscher called on the Soviets to respond to President Bush's proposals for weapons reductions ''with equal boldness and imagination.''

A U.S. delegation is to leave shortly for Moscow to begin negotiations on arms reductions.

The team will be headed by Reginald Bartholomew, the undersecretary of state for international security affairs, and include officials from the Pentagon, Energy Department, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The State Department said Wednesday officials from the Soviet republics as well as the central government would participate in the talks.

The Bush administration is trying to make sure battlefield nuclear weapons now stored throughout the Soviet Union are under the control of a central command. Also, the participation of the republics reflects U.S. recognition of the new power-sharing arrangement they have with the central government.