East Calls for Short-Cut Solution, West Wants Substantive Deal
VIENNA, Austria (AP) _ The Warsaw Pact suggested to NATO Thursday that the two sides end 13 years of negotiations on reducing troop strengths in Central Europe by quickly adopting a compromise and moving on to broader talks.
Soviet Ambassador Valerian Mikhailov recommended that the deadlocked negotiations be replaced by conventional arms-reduction talks covering more territory and involving more nations.
Dutch Ambassador Jan Hein Van de Mortel, who spoke for the West, did not rule out new negotiations, but said the Vienna talks should be concluded with a substantive accord instead of token agreement.
″The quicker we get down to business the better,″ declared Mikhailov, when asked about when a new arms forum should be set up to replace the current Mutual and Balanced Force Reduction talks.
Mikhailov said at least 11,500 Soviet troops and 6,500 U.S. soldiers should be withdrawn from Central Europe and the procedure monitored, as a ″way out of the present deadlock.″
″All-European conventional arms reduction talks″ could then begin and during their duration both sides would pledge not to increase forces in central Europe, he said.
The two sides tentatively agreed last year on a first-phase reduction of about 6,500 U.S and 11,500 Soviet troops, but disagreement on verification has stood in the way of final agreement.
The discussions focus on about 2 million soldiers in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, West Germany, East Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia. The two sides held their last session of the year on Thursday.
Van de Mortel said the Vienna conference would continue into the new year, at least. He said the next round will open Jan. 29 and end March 19.
Van de Mortel said ″NATO prefers ... a wider framework″ but insists on ″achieving a meaningful accord at MBFR ... not a token agreement,″ he said.
In recent years, the negotiations have foundered on how to police reductions and make sure they are permanent. Stringent controls proposed by the West are rejected as biased by the East.
NATO foreign ministers are expected to make final decisions on a new forum for discussing conventional arms reductions at a meeting scheduled in Brussels Dec. 11-12.
The Warsaw Pact has called several times for negotations to reduce troops and arms throughout Europe.