Poland Stops Soviet Train from Leaving Former East Germany
WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ Poland blocked a Red Army train taking troops and equipment out of Germany because the Soviets have not yet signed a treaty with Poland on the German pullout, the Foreign Ministry said today.
In what appeared to be the first incident of its kind, Polish railway officials turned back the train at the German border near the northwestern city of Szczecin on Monday, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Wladyslaw Klaczynski.
A third round of Polish-Soviet talks began today in Moscow on the proposed treaty to determine conditions of passage through Poland of Soviet troops in former East Germany, Klaczynski said.
Poland and the Soviet Union meanwhile have reached an impasse over the timing of permanently removing the 50,000 Red Army troops in Poland.
Klaczynski said the train was blocked ″because it did not fulfill the proper requirements for a rail transport.″
He said the pullout of Red Army troops from Germany cannot take place through Poland until an agreement on their transport is signed.
The train stopped at the border town of Gumience consisted of 26 cars with 168 soldiers, 30 armed officers, 26 trucks, nine tanks and two anti-aircraft weapons, according to the newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza.
Two other returning Soviet trains already inside Poland were stopped but allowed to continue to the Soviet border because they were already two-thirds of the way there, the newspaper said.
Poland seeks two treaties with the Soviet Union on the troop withdrawals. The first is to settle the date of the pullout from Poland; Poland wants it complete by the year end.
The second treaty will regulate conditions for passage of the estimated 1 million people, 11,000 heavily laden trains and thousands more road convoys that will leave as the Soviets meet a 1994 deadline for pulling their 350,000 Red Army troops out of the former East Germany.
When Germany and the Soviet Union agreed on the pullout timetable before to last year’s German unification, the country in between - Poland - was not consulted. Polish officials seek money to pay costs from the pullout, including road and rail improvements and policing the operation.
Poland also wants to ensure that troops crossing its territory will not be carrying arms and that the materiel will not include hazardous nuclear or chemical weapons, which Poland says should go by sea.
Poland is the only country in Eastern Europe with which the Soviets have not signed an agreement on removing its troops.
All Soviet troops will leave Czechoslovakia and Hungary this year, and Germany within three years.