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OSCE: Members To Tackle Many Issues During Closed-Door Talks

As the OSCE prepares for its November summit, member states are meeting in Vienna for closed-door talks. RFE/RL correspondent Roland Eggleston reports that during the 12 days of meetings, everything from peacekeeping to vote monitoring will be discussed.

Munich, 20 September 1999 (RFE/RL) -- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is meeting behind closed doors in Vienna today, to prepare for its summit in November in Istanbul.

The Vienna meeting does not have a fixed agenda. Discussions will include all aspects of the organization's work, including peacekeeping, monitoring elections and protecting human rights. The OSCE groups together 54 countries ranging from the United States and Canada to all of eastern and western Europe and most of the former Soviet Union.

The talks, to be chaired by Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide, will be held with a minimum of media presence to allow for a frank exchange of views. Eide says regional security will play a large role in the discussions. He says the organization will be briefed on the latest events in Kosovo and in the breakaway Russian republic of Chechnya.

The situation in federal Yugoslavia will be the focus of some of the discussions, although Yugoslavia's membership in the OSCE was formally suspended in 1992 because of the Bosnian war.

The Vienna meeting will also focus on the OSCE's role in promoting talks to make military activities more transparent, thereby reducing the risk of war. A spokesman said the Vienna meeting will review the implementation of confidence-building measures approved in previous OSCE documents and consider what can be done to make them more effective.

Diplomats will also hear a report on the revised treaty on limiting conventional weapons in Europe, although officially this is outside the scope of the Vienna meeting. The original treaty (CFE) was approved in Paris in 1990 between NATO and the now-defunct Warsaw Pact.

Officials in Vienna told RFE/RL that the revised version, which takes into account the changes to the political situation, should be completed in time to be signed during the Istanbul summit.