Moscow — East Bloc seeks NATO talks on ruling out force
The Warsaw Pact proposed Monday that NATO enter into discussions aimed at banning the use of military force to settle conflicts. The proposal is similar to ones put forth in the past by the Soviet Union and its East-bloc allies but is significant for its wording and timing, Monitor correspondent Gary Thatcher reports.
It comes at a time when major negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union over limiting nuclear weapons have been broken off. The US has insisted that it is up to Moscow - which walked out on two separate sets of negotiations - to get discussions going again. By proposing wide-ranging discussions with NATO, or, as the proposal states, between any two ''interested'' member states, the Soviets may be looking for a face-saving way of doing just that.
The proposal also seeks to draw other member states of NATO and the Warsaw Pact into negotiations. Moscow would, of course, have no problems keeping compliant East-bloc countries in line at such negotiations. (The same cannot be said of NATO, however.)
The Warsaw Pact could push for inclusion of the independent nuclear forces of Britain - and perhaps even France - in the discussions. This is a goal Moscow unsuccessfully pursued at the Geneva negotiations.
The sweeping proposal calls for discussions not only on nuclear and conventional arms, but also on ''practical measures to prevent the danger of sudden attack.''
The Warsaw Pact said it envisioned new discussions that would supplement other negotiations now under way.
President Reagan has called upon the Soviet Union to respond to Western initiatives put forth at negotiations now under way in Vienna and Stockholm on limiting conventional arms and enacting ''confidence building'' measures that decrease the chance of accidental escalation of conflicts in Europe. But Tass, the official Soviet news agency, denounced such calls for ''camouflaging the aggressive course of the United States and NATO.''
In announcing the Warsaw Pact proposals, Tass said its members ''expect . . . NATO states will study it attentively and in a constructive spirit and express their positive attitude to it.''