Soviets Offer to Take Role in U.N. Force

United Press International

The Soviet Union expressed readiness today to provide troops for U.N. peacekeeping forces and end a hands-off policy by the superpowers toward the armed branch of a Nobel Prize-winning peace operation.

Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Petrovsky said Moscow has sought a new approach to a “comprehensive global security” that includes making U.N. bodies more effective and extensive use of the U.N. peacekeeping operations.

“We are ready to take part in the establishment, in cooperation with other countries, of a system to train personnel for the U.N. force,” Petrovsky told a news conference.

Would Provide Troops


“In certain cases, we would be prepared to consider making available our military contingent for U.N. peacekeeping operations should such a need arise and if other U.N. member states are interested in this,” he said.

Moscow and Washington have not participated in large-contingent U.N. peacekeeping forces, but they have provided unarmed observers for one small monitoring team, the U.N. Truce Supervision Organization based in Jerusalem.

There are 36 Americans and 36 Soviets in UNTSO, the first U.N. peacekeeping operation, launched in 1948. One UNTSO officer, U.S. Marine Lt. Col. William Higgins, was kidnaped Feb. 17 in southern Lebanon and is believed held by Muslim fundamentalists. Higgins was chief of a U.N. observer team in Lebanon.

Awarded Nobel Prize


U.N. peacekeeping forces, armed for self-defense, and unarmed observer teams such as UNTSO, make up the U.N. peacekeeping operations that won the 1988 Nobel Peace prize last Thursday.

Petrovsky’s statement today was the strongest indication that Moscow would participate in the operations.

U.N. Undersecretary-General Marrack Goulding, responsible for all U.N. peacekeeping operations, said the superpowers have favored a hands-off policy because their national interests conflict in many areas.

The peacekeeping operations are deeply indebted because the superpowers refused to pay for their upkeep. Moscow owes about $200 million and Washington, $70 million.

Nations Pay Expenses

The U.N. budget provides $230 million annually in administrative costs for about 10,000 peacekeepers in the Middle East and in South Asia. Expenses for the soldiers and officers are paid for by their governments and voluntary contributions from U.N. member states.

Petrovsky advocated a more active role for the peacekeepers and U.N. special investigators, who could be sent immediately into a country upon request. He said each request should be “judged on its own merit.”

He said that his government has been making up its back payments for the peacekeeping operations and that the debt would be paid in “two or three years.”