U.S., Soviets still disagree on arms treaty dTC

May 23, 1991|By Mark Matthews | Mark Matthews,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON GHB — WASHINGTON -- Despite some progress, the United States and the Soviet Union failed in two days of talks this week to resolve a final sticking point on ratification of a landmark treaty limiting conventional forces in Europe.

The United States rejected a Soviet proposal to allow some equipment to be removed from storage, arguing that this would require an unacceptable change in the terms of the treaty.

But U.S. officials said that the Soviets were willing to accept the Western view of the treaty's overall limits and that the talks had nailed down previous understandings on interpretation of the treaty.

In a gesture to Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev, meanwhile, President Bush suggested that the United States might be willing to include him in the July economic summit to be held by seven industrialized democracies.

The Bush administration mounted a major effort during a visit this week by the chief of the Soviet General Staff, Gen. Mikhail Moiseyev, to persuade him that the United States is determined to see that the Soviets abide by what the West views as the original terms of the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, signed last November.

Until the dispute over conventional forces is settled, the United States is refusing to complete negotiations on a treaty slashing long-range nuclear forces or to set a date for a superpower summit.

In addition to lengthy sessions with arms control experts, General Moiseyev met with Mr. Bush, Secretary of State James A. Baker III and Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft and Gen. Colin L. Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Soviets had sought to have some equipment assigned to coastal defense, strategic rocket forces and naval infantry considered outside the treaty's overall ceilings, a move the United States and its European allies saw as a violation of its terms.

In previous talks, the United States and Soviets cleared up the disputes over forces assigned to coastal defense and protection of strategic rockets.

But the Soviet military dug in its heels on the naval infantry question.

Under the compromise put forward by General Moiseyev, the Soviets would abide by the treaty's ceilings but would remove some equipment from storage and place it on active status.

This, however, would require a reworking of part of the treaty, which specifies the amount of equipment to be placed in storage and the amount on active status.

"We rejected anything that would change the terms of the treaty as signed," a U.S. official said.

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