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U.S. Aides Reassure NATO Allies on Arms Plans

February 28, 1987|From Reuters

BRUSSELS — Two U.S. officials assured the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on Friday that the United States is not on the verge of major decisions on deployment of President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative or accepting a broader interpretation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, a NATO spokesman said.

The envoys, seeking to allay fears among Washington's allies, pledged further consultations with NATO members on the two issues before any decision is made, he said.

Paul H. Nitze, the senior State Department adviser on arms control, and Richard N. Perle, an assistant secretary of defense, appeared before a special meeting of the North Atlantic Council.

"The exchange of views proved useful. The U.S. delegates said that this was an initial consultation and that consultations would continue," the NATO spokesman said.

"In any case, they made clear that decisions in these matters were not imminent," he said.

Fielded Questions

Nitze and Perle spoke and fielded questions for two-and-a-half hours at the meeting at NATO headquarters. The heads of diplomatic missions to the 16-nation alliance attended.

One senior diplomat said, "On the basis of what was said this afternoon, no decision has been taken in Washington.

"They presented the case for a broad interpretation, but they in no sense suggested that it was an open and shut case," the diplomat said.

Touring Europe

The two American officials, who are touring West European capitals, earlier this week heard direct expressions of concern from British, West German and Dutch leaders over possible extensive testing of parts of the Strategic Defense Initiative, the space-based missile defense system commonly called "Star Wars."

The way for such a move would be cleared if the United States formally adopted a so-called broad interpretation of its 1972 ABM treaty with Moscow. The Reagan Administration says this interpretation is legally correct.

The West Europeans, who regard the ABM accord as a valued symbol of detente, say a re-interpretation could end prospects of a U.S.-Soviet arms control agreement in the remaining two years of the Reagan Administration.

Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev seemed to underline that assessment on Friday when he again accused Washington of seeking to break the 1972 ABM treaty and said this would be a blow to East-West dialogue.

"The main thing at present is to prevent the wrecking of the ABM treaty. Otherwise talks will be depreciated, the arms race will go out of control, instability will become critical, mistrust and suspicion will grow," he said.

The Soviet news agency Tass said Gorbachev made the comments after two hours of talks in Moscow with Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Andreotti.

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