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Soviet Withdrawal From Hungary Detailed; Karpov Optimistic About Geneva

January 26, 1989

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) _ Soviet Defense Minister Gen. Dimitry Yazov has given a breakdown of troops to be withdrawn from Hungary over the next two years as part of a unilateral Soviet troop reduction plan, media reported Wednesday.

In Geneva, the Soviet senior arms expert said Moscow will seek early progress at Vienna talks on reducing conventional forces in Europe that are due to start in March.

Yazov detailed the withdrawal figures in a letter to Hungarian Defense Minister Ferenc Karpati, saying the first stage to be completed by July will include one armoured division and an armoured training regiment, the official news agency MTI reported.

However, Karpati gave no exact date for the start of the withdrawal and MTI said the Hungarian defense minister refused to say how many troops are to leave in the three-stage pullout.

He said the Kremlin would publish a detailed timetable on what forces would be removed and when by the end of this month.

There are an estimated 62,000 Soviet troops stationed in Hungary and Karpati and other officials have said about one fourth of them are to be withdrawn under the Kremlin plan.

The withdrawals are part of a unilateral move announced in December by Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev to remove some 50,000 troops from Hungary, East Germany and Czechoslovakia as well as 5,000 tanks by 1990.

The gesture was intended to give impetus to the March talks in Vienna.

Karpati said Yazov’s schedule foresaw the withdrawal of an airborne assault battalion and a fighter plane regiment from Hungarian territory in the second half of this year.

In 1990, a chemical defense battalion and the staff of a training school for non-commissioned officers in eastern Hungary would be withdrawn, MTI quoted Karpati as saying.

In Geneva, Victor Karpov, Soviet deputy foreign minister and senior arms control expert, suggested the scheduled Vienna talks stand a better chance of success than their failed predecessor, the Mutual Balanced Force Reduction Talks launched in the early 1970s.

″We are going to participate in those talks open-mindedly,″ Karpov said of the conference, due to start March 9 with 23 nations from East and West.

He said Moscow intends to ″help from the very start to negotiate solutions that can bring in a very short period of time real reductions,″ with elimination of imbalances between the two camps’ military power in Europe as first priority.

He added the Soviets are ″not rigid″ on the issue of verification and ″will be ready to discuss various possibilities.″

Karpov was in Geneva to lead a Soviet delegation to a U.N. disarmament workshop.

The official Czechoslovak news agency CTK reported Wednesday that the Warsaw Pact is to hold annual military exercises in Czechoslovakia in the first half of February.

The Hungarian news agency MTI reported that the exercises, code-named ″Friendship ’89″ will involve the Hungarian and Czechoslovak armies as well as Soviet forces stationed in Czechoslovakia.

Neither news agency gave an exact date for the exercise.

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