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NATO/Russia: Complex Weapons Negotiations Begin This Month

  • Roland Eggleston

Vienna, 11 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - Diplomats in Vienna say concrete negotiations will begin before the end of the month on revising the 1990 Treaty limiting the number of non-nuclear weapons which can be held in Europe and in Russia.

Diplomats involved in the negotiations tell RFE/RL that preliminary talks concluded today on how negotiations would be structured at an arms-control conference in Vienna. Thirty governments are taking part in the conference.

The negotiations are being held at the insistence of Russia, which argues the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE) no longer reflects the East-West political situation. CFE placed limits on the number of conventional forces NATO and the former Warsaw Pact could hold in specific areas of Europe, between the Atlantic and the Urals. More than 58,000 weapons were destroyed to meet its targets.

A U.S. official tells RFE/RL that negotiations are expected to be very complicated, because they affect the security of every country in Europe, and each Government has its own perception of security.

Moscow wants more flexibility in moving troops around its own country. Moscow also argues that the CFE Treaty should reflect the disappearance of the bloc-to-bloc confrontation in Europe and emphasise pan-European cooperation.

Diplomats denied unofficial reports that a preliminary agreement might be reached before the Clinton-Yeltsin summit in Helsinki next month. They said they expected the two leaders to discuss various aspects of the CFE negotiations, and possibly help them along.