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Gorbachev Offers to Guarantee Chemical-Free Zone in Europe

Associated Press

Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev on Tuesday said the Kremlin would guarantee a zone free of chemical weapons in Europe if the United States did the same.

The official news agency Tass said Gorbachev made the statement during talks with Johannes Rau of West Germany, the state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Reiterates Support

Tass said Gorbachev reiterated Soviet support for creation of nuclear-free zones in Europe and creation of similar zones free of chemical weapons. The Soviet-led Warsaw Pact in 1983 proposed a European zone in which chemical weapons would be banned.

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“In case of the establishment of a zone in Central Europe that would be free of chemical weapons, the U.S.S.R., guided by its basic foreign policy, would be ready to guarantee and respect the status of the zone,” Tass quoted Gorbachev as saying. “The guarantee would enter into force if the United States acted likewise.”

Rau told reporters after the two-hour Kremlin meeting that Gorbachev made the statements in the context of welcoming an initiative that West Germany’s Social Democrats, the nation’s opposition party, worked out in talks with the East German Communist Party earlier this year.

Rau is considered one of the most likely possibilities as the Social Democratic Party’s candidate for chancellor in 1987 elections.

Tass also quoted Gorbachev as saying that the Soviet Union was willing to come to terms “effectively and without delay” on all disarmament issues if the United States would do the same.

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But the Soviet leader apparently indicated that there would be no new proposals from Moscow on limiting arms and that the Kremlin had already outlined its offers.

Last week, Gorbachev told a visiting delegation of eight U.S. senators that he would make far-reaching proposals on nuclear arms if the United States agreed to halt development of “Star Wars,” the space-based missile defense system advocated by the Reagan Administration.


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