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Soviets Invite Highly Critical Rights Group

September 23, 1987|Associated Press

VIENNA — The Kremlin has issued an invitation to a Western group highly critical of its human rights policy to meet with officials in Moscow, the Soviet envoy to the 35-nation Helsinki review conference announced Tuesday.

Western officials welcomed the unprecedented invitation and other recent shifts in Moscow's human rights policy but insisted on more improvements before signing an accord to end the conference.

"In the all-important areas of human rights and human contacts, there is still a shortfall . . . of deeds to match the ambitious language of perestroika, " David Mellor, minister of state in Britain's Foreign Office, said as the fourth round of talks opened.

Perestroika is Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev's campaign for wholesale restructuring of Soviet society and the economy.

The Soviets must do better, otherwise "we shall be keeping our pens in our pockets" and not sign the accord to end the conference, Mellor told reporters.

The 35 nations signed a human rights agreement in 1975 in the Finnish capital of Helsinki. The review conference was supposed to end last July. Diplomats now say they hope to reach agreement by Christmas.

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