Simultaneous Disbanding of Warsaw Pact and NATO Supported by Gorbachev
Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev stepped up his courtship of Western Europe on Monday by saying he would support disbanding the Warsaw Pact and NATO alliances.
The Soviet leader, on a visit to East Germany, also charged that the United States ignored the opinion of its West European allies by sending warplanes to bomb Libya last week.
In a speech to workers in East Berlin, the Soviet Communist Party general secretary said that Moscow was ready for “a simultaneous disbanding of the Warsaw Pact and NATO, or, for a start, their military organizations.”
The Soviets have previously said they were prepared to scrap the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact if the West dissolved the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The offers have been viewed with skepticism in the West.
On the possibility of a superpower summit this year, Gorbachev said, “We are ready for a Soviet-American meeting so long as the appropriate international atmosphere is created, and real disarmament steps are possible.”
Condemns ‘Piratical’ U.S. Raid
Gorbachev kept up his criticism of President Reagan, charging that the United States’ “piratical action (against Libya had) not only failed to take notice of world public opinion, but of the majority of its NATO allies too.”
Gorbachev’s criticism of the U.S. raid on Libya and other signs of tension have raised doubts over whether a summit will be held this year as a follow-up to the Gorbachev-Reagan meeting in Geneva last November. But in Washington, Reagan, in an interview Monday with wire service reporters, said that even the “somewhat angry statements” made by Gorbachev in recent weeks contained “no indication that he was planning to change away” from an agreement for a second summit.
“I thought he kind of indicated in his most recent remarks that he’s expecting to be meeting in a summit,” Reagan said.
Gorbachev’s remarks were reported by East German television. The state-run network filmed Gorbachev’s speech in a machine tool factory in a suburb of East Berlin and translated his Russian words into German.
Western diplomatic sources said Gorbachev’s repetition of the proposal on the two alliances dovetailed with appeals he has made to Western Europe from East Berlin in the past few days.
Aimed at West Europeans
“It looks like this, too, is aimed across the (Berlin) Wall at the West Europeans,” said one Western diplomat, who spoke on the condition that he not be identified.
On Friday, Gorbachev announced he was ready to negotiate reductions in troops and conventional weapons deployed in Europe. He also said that Warsaw Pact forces would never invade Western Europe unless first attacked by NATO.
“Don’t believe the fabrications concerning the aggressiveness of the Soviet Union,” he said in a speech Friday to the East German Communist Party Congress.
On Monday, in his speech to the workers, he repeated the proposal on conventional arms and said he also favored “all-European cooperation on economic, ecological and other issues.”
“It is finally time to grasp the simple thought that the barriers can be removed,” he said. Gorbachev then expressed readiness to meet with Reagan.
Proposals a ‘Step Forward’
Gorbachev’s suggestions that troop levels and conventional weapons be reduced have already met with a positive response in West Germany, where Chancellor Helmut Kohl on Monday described the proposals as a “step forward.”
After his speech, Gorbachev attended the closing session of the East German party congress where President Erich Honecker was unanimously reelected Communist Party chief. Gorbachev is scheduled to return to Moscow today.
Honecker, 73, for 15 years at the pinnacle of the party, announced his reelection at the congress after a closed meeting of the policy-making central committee.
The new 22-member ruling Politburo, elected together with Honecker, contained four new members including 56-year-old party official Hans-Joachim Boehme and newly-appointed Defense Minister Heinz Kessler.
Werner Eberlein and Siegfried Lorenz--candidate, or non-voting, members of the Politburo since December--were elevated to full membership. Both became candidates after a former contender for the leadership, Konrad Neumann, was stripped of his posts late last year.
Honecker is the third aging Soviet Bloc leader to retain his post at party congresses this year despite the generation change in the Moscow party apparatus after Gorbachev’s appointment.
Bulgarian leader Todor Zhivkov and Czechoslovak party chief Gustav Husak were both reappointed at recent congresses.