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NATO Chief Says Soviets Insincere in Troop Cut Talks

December 6, 1986

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ NATO’s highest official has accused the Soviet Union of trying to ″bury″ East-West negotiations on troop reductions in central Europe by offering a token settlement.

Lord Carrington, secretary general of the 16-nation Western alliance, said in an interview Friday that NATO was not ready to scrap the 13-year-old talks, known as Mutual and Balanced Force Reduction, or MBFR, negotiations.

The Soviet ambassador to the talks, Valerian Mikhailov, suggested last Thursday that the two sides accept a face-saving compromise and move on to a new set of negotiations in a different forum.

″What the Soviet Union is trying to do is to get rid of the MBFR because, on the whole, it’s rather embarrassing to them,″ Carrington told the Associated Press after a meeting of NATO defense ministers.

″I think the Soviet Union would be quite glad to bury MBFR, partly because ... they’ve been wrong-footed a bit and partly because it’s shown up the sterility of their ideas″ on how to verify any troop cuts, he said.

Carrington also denied published reports that he was considering stepping down as NATO secretary general before his term expires in July 1988.

″It’s absolutely untrue,″ the 67-year-old former British defense and foreign secretary said.

Speaking in his office at the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Carrington said the alliance was in favor of expanding the Vienna-based troop talks to include more countries and to discuss cuts in non- nuclear weapons such as tanks, bombs and planes throughout Europe.

The Vienna talks, fruitless to date, are limited to proposed reductions of soldiers in four NATO countries - Belgium, Luxembourg, West Germany and the Netherlands - and three Warsaw Pact nations: East Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia. The deliberations are scheduled to resume in Vienna on Jan. 29.

Carrington said negotiations on reduction of conventional forces have become more important since the Reykjavik summit between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in October. The two leaders tentatively agreed to radical reductions in nuclear arsenals, but an accord was blocked by dispute over Reagan’s ″Star Wars″ program.

″If we really are talking about a world, and in particular a Europe, in which nuclear weapons are running down or will be greatly reduced - in some cases perhaps some classes (of weapons) disappear - then it does highlight the conventional imbalance,″ he said.

NATO says the seven-nation Warsaw Pact holds a nearly 3-to-1 edge in conventional forces. At the close of their meeting Friday, the NATO defense ministers pledged to redouble their efforts to satrengthen their conventional forces.

Carrington said NATO and the Warsaw Pact would find it ″100 times harder″ to reach agreement on reducing troops and non-nuclear weapons than on cutting nuclear arms. He cited as am example the problem of weighing the strategic importance of troops and arms in Spain, which is not part of NATO’s integrated military structure, with that of a Warsaw Pact nation.

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