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Italian Defense Chief Reaffirms Missile Commitment

January 25, 1985|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — Italian Defense Minister Giovanni Spadolini on Thursday reaffirmed his nation's commitment to the deployment of U.S. medium-range missiles in Europe and said it is essential to the success of U.S.-Soviet arms talks.

Spadolini said he told President Reagan in a White House meeting that he is greatly encouraged by the Jan. 7-8 talks between Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei A. Gromyko in Geneva that resulted in an agreement to resume arms negotiations after more than a year's hiatus. No place nor date has been set for the talks.

Success Expected

"I confirmed the strong and coherent line Italy follows in the implementation of its commitment to Euromissiles. Their acceptance is an essential condition to the talks," he told reporters later.

Spadolini expressed optimism for the success of the talks on medium-range missiles, strategic weapons and space arms.

But he added, "It might not be in the very short term."

U.S.-Soviet negotiations were broken off in late in 1983, when Moscow walked out after deployment of new U.S. Pershing 2 and cruise missiles began in Western Europe.

'No Problem Exists'

Britain, West Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy agreed to take the weapons, but Belgian Premier Wilfried Martens said last week that he will delay deployment in view of the renewed arms talks.

Martens told Reagan in a White House meeting that he will make a decision in March after discussing the deployment with other North Atlantic Treaty Organization leaders.

Spadolini said he told the President "that for Italy, no problem exists as a consequence of the Belgian decision." He attributed Martens' hesitance to domestic political considerations.

Reagan on Wednesday expressed "some optimism" on the outcome of the negotiations, but he cautioned against being euphoric about the prospects for arms control.

"They know as we know that the choice now is to have some legitimate agreement on reduction of arms or face an arms race," he said in an interview.

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