The foreign ministers of six countries arrived here Tuesday prepared to sign an agreement that will restore full sovereignty to a united Germany and guarantee the security of its neighbors.
The accord, the final major document in the process of German reunification, will put a formal end to the post-World War II division of Europe.
Despite the wide range of complex, politically emotive issues, the foreign ministers of both Germanys and the four victorious Allies of World War II--the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain and France--required only four months to reach agreement.
The document defines Germany's borders, including the controversial Oder-Neisse frontier with Poland, sets forth the legal basis for the stationing of Western military forces in the country, as well as the terms for the Soviet military withdrawal, and terminates the rights of the victorious powers.
These rights, which include control of the old German capital, Berlin, and certain air traffic rights throughout Germany, end with ratification of the agreement by the last of the four powers, most likely within a few months.
West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher called the agreement "important and historic."
In a hectic round of bilateral meetings Tuesday, Genscher met with Secretary of State James A. Baker III, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze and British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd, cleaning up a series of details that remained in dispute on the eve of the signing.
According to West German government sources, two significant points remain unresolved:
--The role of dual-use weapons, those with both nuclear and non-nuclear capability, in the region that is now East Germany.
--The participation of non-German forces in maneuvers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in the same region.
Although West Germany and its Western allies have already agreed not to station NATO forces permanently in the region during this transitional period, the question of conducting at least limited maneuvers there remains unresolved.
Last July, Moscow dropped its objections to a united Germany's full membership in the NATO alliance, and this has been described as the most important breakthrough in the negotiations.
On Tuesday, the Western Allies and West Germany yielded to Soviet pressure and agreed to elevate the status of the agreement to a treaty, a step that will heighten the importance of the document in international law.
On Monday, the last significant stumbling block in the talks was removed when West Germany agreed to pay Moscow the equivalent of $7.7 billion to finance the cost of withdrawing Soviet forces, retraining troops for civilian jobs and constructing housing for them in the Soviet Union.