NATO backs US on key issues

The 15 NATO states endorsed strong US stands on the Afghanistan and Iran issues, but did not announce any agreed action to secure Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan or freedom for the 53 US hostages in Iran, Monitor correspondent John K. Cooley reports.

NATO's semiannual ministerial council meeting in Ankara, Turkey, did not discuss sending aid to "Afghan liberation fighters," Secretary of State Edmund Muskie said after the meeting.

Intelligence sources here say that whatever troop units the Soviets may finally withdraw in their much-publicized plan to ease the Afghan situation, they are already pulling out short-range (20- to 30-mile) frog missiles, antiaircraft guns, and some fighter planes.

Lack of any serious air or heavy-weapons opposition on the ground enables them to dispense with these weapons, not needed in fighting with the Afghan guerrillas, US experts say.

In Ankara Mr. Muskie said there had been no discussion of "transitional withdrawal" plan President Carter mentioned during his recent European tour.

NATO Secretary-General Joseph M. A. H. Luns said NATO concern that West Germany might delay deployment of new medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe was "allayed." The first deployment moves could take place before Chancellor Helmut Schmidt meets Soviet President Brezhnev in Moscow June 30, Mr. Luns said.

The NATO communique said it was important for the United States and the USSR to continue arms-control talks and called for "continuing dialogue with the Soviet Union to preserve detente on a global scale."

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