U.S., Soviets set to resolve arms dispute

April 26, 1991|By Mark Matthews | Mark Matthews,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- The United States and the Soviet Union are nearing agreement on implementation of the landmark treaty on conventional forces in Europe, advancing prospects for both a long-range nuclear arms pact and a superpower summit.

Secretary of State James A. Baker

III told reporters in Kislovodsk, in the Soviet Union, yesterday that "some of the important issues . . . have been resolved."

An administration official later told reporters aboard his plane that the Soviets had made proposals that would settle two of the three issues dividing them from the West.

These involve what the West contended were Soviet attempts to circumvent the limits in the arms agreement by reclassifying certain forces as coastal defense and strategic rocket forces.

The official said that the Soviets "have proposed, with respect to coastal defenses, to meet our requirements, and I think we are in good shape as well on strategic armed forces."

On the third category, involving naval infantry, no agreement has been reached, administration sources said, although a Soviet proposal might be contained in Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev's reply to a message from President Bush.

The Bush administration is cautious about predicting a final settlement, however, insisting that unless all the issues in dispute are settled, the Soviets won't be complying with the clear terms of the treaty.

The United States is refusing to complete a strategic forces reduction agreement until the dispute on conventional forces is settled and doesn't want to hold a summit until a START treaty is ready.

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