Germany Prepares for Big Airlift of Food for Soviets

Associated Press

This country is ready to establish an airlift to help transport food and other emergency supplies to the Soviet Union, it was reported Saturday.

The Welt am Sonntag newspaper said German air force transport planes will be used if an airlift becomes necessary.

Quoting sources in Bonn, the paper said Germany is preparing the largest government and private aid campaign since the end of World War II to help the Soviets avert hunger this winter.

Much of the aid is expected to come from emergency reserves of food and other supplies built up in West Berlin over the years to help the city overcome another possible Cold War blockade, the newspaper said.

There have been dire predictions of winter food shortages for the Soviet people and fears that it could seriously exacerbate long-standing tensions and spark civil unrest.

The German view contrasts sharply with a U.S. assessment that immediate food aid to the Soviet Union is unnecessary this year.

Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev agreed during Gorbachev's visit to Germany earlier this month to jointly sponsor the aid action.

Kohl has made help to the Soviet Union a major theme in recent speeches and meetings with world leaders, particularly at last week's 34-nation Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Bonn has already promised $19.5 billion in various forms of aid to the Soviet Union since Gorbachev lifted his objections to German unification this summer.

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