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Europe Force Reduction Talks Resume in Vienna

May 15, 1987|From Reuters

VIENNA — Marathon talks between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Warsaw Pact on mutual reductions in conventional forces in Europe resumed Thursday after a spring break with spokesmen from both sides saying they are still pushing for an accord.

The spokesmen said they are still seeking agreement at the 19-nation MBFR (mutual and balanced force reduction) talks, where delegates have been seeking an accord on military cutbacks in central Europe since 1973.

The two sides, wide apart on the degree of verification needed to ensure compliance with an agreement, have conceded that only a limited first-phase accord involving fewer than 20,000 Soviet and U.S. troops is possible at this stage.

Western diplomats said the future of the talks has been put in doubt by other proposals that appear to overlap with MBFR, whose mandate covers cuts in forces in the Benelux states, the two Germanys, Poland and Czechoslovakia.

Poland last week proposed, in the framework of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also being held in Vienna, a package including cutting conventional and nuclear weapons, but not troops, in the area covered by MBFR and in Denmark and Hungary.

In addition, the 23 member states of NATO and the Warsaw Pact are engaged in informal contacts here to establish a mandate for a fresh forum of East-West talks on conventional forces from the Atlantic Ocean to the Ural Mountains.

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