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East-West Negotiations Recess, No Sign of Progress

July 4, 1986

VIENNA, Austria (AP) _ NATO and the Warsaw Pact on Thursday recessed their 13-year-old talks on troop reductions in Europe with each side blaming the other for a lack of progress.

The talks were scheduled to resume Sept. 25.

Verification has been the main obstacle to agreement in the Mutual and Balanced Force Reduction talks, which seek to trim the estimated 2 million NATO and East bloc troops in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, West Germany, East Germany, Poland and Czechoslovvakia.

The two sides neared agreement earlier this year on an initial withdrawal of 11,500 Soviet troops and up to 6,500 U.S. soldiers, but disagreed on how to police the reductions.

In Washington, White House deputy press secretary Larry Speakes said in a statement: ″Despite the recent assertion of Eastern leaders that their governments were willing to agree to reasonable verification measures, the East fell back on old proposals which had previously been rejected by the West as incapable of insuring compliance with treaty obligations.

″Indeed, the East even backtracked from its earlier position on certain verification measures,″ Speakes said.

In turn, Soviet chief delegate Valerian Mikhailov told reporters the Warsaw Pact had rejected NATO’s verification approach six years ago.

″The Western side not only has failed to make any constructive changes at all in its position on verification, but has hardened it,″ Mikhailov said. ″The only thing such an approach can demonstrate is the desire to hold the negotiations in an impasse.″

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has insisted on compulsory and detailed on-site inspections, including some on Soviet territory. It has rejected verifications proposals by the Soviet Union and its six military allies as too vague to be effective.

NATO spokesman Jan Hein L. Van de Mortel of the Netherlands, quoting chief U.S. delegate Robert Blackwill, said the East was willing to allow inspections of some of its forces under restricted circumstances, but not to provide detailed information needed to make such checks meaningful.

He said the East’s approach ″seemed to be akin to that of the proverbial messenger who bears good news and bad news - with the former inevitably being canceled by the latter.″

But Mikhailov said NATO verification proposals ″would result in an unjustified exposure of the entire defense structure of states down to the level of an individual batallion and barrack, in a serious interference in the internal affairs of states.″

The 19-nation troop reduction talks began Oct. 30, 1973.

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