MOSCOW -- World War II's victors agreed to end their occupation rights in Germany yesterday in a historic treaty that will ultimately bar foreign forces and any kind of nuclear weaponry from what is now East Germany.
The two-plus-four agreement removes international obstacles to full sovereignty of a unified Germany and marks a major step toward a new European security structure.
Foreign ministers from the two Germanys, along with those from Britain, France, the United States and the Soviet Union, approved final language of the treaty just minutes before it was ++ signed after resolving last-minute disagreements that threatened to derail the ceremony.
During the climactic negotiations, West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher made a 1 a.m. visit to Secretary of State James A. Baker III at his hotel after the Soviets started suggesting "a change in the program," a senior State Department official said.
"We have drawn a line under World War II and started keeping the time of a new era," Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze said at the signing ceremony.
Mr. Genscher, vowing that "only peace will emanate from German soil," remembered "the victims of war and totalitarian domination." He was "particularly thinking about the Jewish people," whose agony should never be repeated, he said.
L Secretary Baker called the pact a "rendezvous with history."
The four-power imprimatur on German unification virtually was assured once the Soviet Union gave its approval this summer and West Germany promised to adhere to the border with Poland and agreed this week to pay nearly $8 billion to facilitate the removal of Soviet forces from East Germany over four years.
But significant issues remained, most of them focused on the Soviet Union's fears that in relinquishing its foothold in Central Europe, it faced a Western threat closer to its border than before.
Germany has renounced the possession, manufacture and control over nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.
Yesterday's agreement expands on this pledge. It allows German troops under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to be stationed in what is now East Germany once Soviet forces have been withdrawn but bars nuclear weapons carriers.
"This does not apply to conventional weapon systems which may have other capabilities in addition to conventional ones but which in that part of Germany are equipped for a conventional role and designated only for such," the treaty says.
"Foreign armed forces and nuclear weapons or their carriers will not be stationed in that part of Germany or deployed there," it says.
Responding to Soviet concerns, a last-minute addition to the treaty says that Germany will define what "deployed" means "by taking into account the security interests of each" of the countries signing the treaty.
During the four years before full Soviet withdrawal, German troops not under NATO will be allowed in East Germany.
Germany and the Soviet Union pledged to negotiate a treaty on Soviet withdrawal and a reduction in overall German troop levels to 370,000 within three to four years.
Other foreign troops won't be allowed in East Germany during the withdrawal period, except in Berlin, where they won't increase in strength.
In a separate letter to the Soviets, Germany committed itself to a free democratic order that bars Nazism and to respecting graves and memorials erected in the formerly Communist East.
The occupying powers agreed to suspend their rights in time for the completed unification of Germany on Oct. 3, although the rights won't formally expire until yesterday's treaty is ratified.
The Bush administration maintains that the treaty may not require ratification by the U.S. Senate, although no final decision has been announced. Other countries, however, are expected to go through a ratification process.