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Europe: Experts Meet Concerning High-Tech Arms Export Agency

Vienna, 11 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - Experts from 33 countries are meeting in Vienna this week to discuss the operations of a new organization supervising the world movement of high technology which might have a military use.

The organization is the successor to COCOM, the Western institution which once controlled the export of high technology to the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact countries. The new organization is widely known as the Wassenaar Agreement, after the Dutch town where it was established in December last year.

It includes Russia and most of the other former Warsaw Pact states. Unlike COCOM, it cannot veto the export of high technology to any country, but members are expected to voluntarily report such exports. The organization only became effective November 1, and this is its first high-level meeting.

Officials tell RFE/RL the United States is the driving force behind the new organisation, as Washington was with COCOM. The U.S. delegate at the Vienna meeting is Under-Secretary of State Lynn Davis, an expert on arms issues.