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U.S., Soviet Speakers Trade Charges on Regional Conflicts

September 17, 1986

JURMALA, U.S.S.R. (AP) _ An American expert on East-West relations accused Moscow on Wednesday of practicing ″Soviet imperialism″ in Afghanistan and in other world troublespots such as Nicaragua and Angola.

Helmut Sonnenfeldt, a member of the National Security Council in the early 1970s who is now with the Brookings Institution, was especially sharp in his criticism of the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan.

In a speech to a conference on superpower relations, Sonnenfeldt said: ″To put it bluntly, what is happening in Afghanistan is a bloody war against massive popular resistance against the present regime in Kabul.″

Nikolai Shishlin, the Communist Party Central Committee’s propaganda chief, responded with an attack on what he called U.S. ″neoglobalism.″ He accused Washington of declaring all hotspots spheres of its vital interests.

The exchange came on the third day of a five-day private conference on the state of U.S.-Soviet relations. The meeting, in this Baltic resort town, is patterned after a similar gathering last year at Chautauqua in New York state.

Sonnenfeldt criticized the KGB’s case against American newsman Nicholas Daniloff, held in Moscow and charged with spying in what U.S. officials say is a trumped up case. Some of the 270 American participants at Jurmala have vowed to raise the case at every forum.

Sonnenfeldt noted that Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze and Secretary of State George P. Shultz are due to hold talks Friday that could lead to a superpower summit. He added: ″I only wish the shadow of the Daniloff case did not hang over these very important meetings.″

Speaking to an audience of about 2,000, Sonnenfeldt blamed direct or indirect Kremlin involvement for hostilities in Afghanistan, Nicaragua and Angola.

″Your constitution calls this national liberation struggles. But we have to call it Soviet imperialism,″ he said.

On Central America, Sonnenfeldt said, ″The transformation of Cuba into a Soviet military outpost greatly complicates the situation.″

Referring to Nicaragua, he said, ″The U.S. people will continue to support any U.S. administration that will confront Soviet-backed Cuban intervention in that area.″

Shishlin responded that he was ″simply amazed at the statements being made at this high-level conference.″

″The United States sees a danger that this tiny, minuscule country (Nicaragua) could go 2,000 kilometers, conquer Mexico, then lay claims to Texas or California,″ he said.

″Mr. Sonnenfeldt has tried to create an image of a bloodthirsty Soviet Union,″ added Georgy M. Kornienko, a senior Central Committee official on foreign affairs. ″We ask for some proof.″

Soviet officials repeated the contention that the Kremlin’s military presence in Afghanistan is necessary to counter rebel forces backed by the United States, Pakistan and other nations.

In a separate development, Mark Palmer, the new American ambassador to Hungary, said he filed a complaint with local authorities alleging there had been harassment of members of the Latvian-American association who are attending the conference.

He said that members of the U.S.-based emigre group were being tailed by plainclothesmen and that Soviet citizens they spoke to were being questioned by police afterward.

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