Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Arms Accord at Center of US-Soviet Summit German Unity Seen Dominating the Discussioins

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Arms Accord at Center of US-Soviet Summit German Unity Seen Dominating the Discussioins

Article excerpt

THE centerpiece of this week's summit meeting between Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and United States President Bush will be a long-awaited agreement on the control of strategic nuclear weapons, Soviet officials say.

"We can speak of a good future" when it comes to strategic weapons, Sergei Akhromeyev, Mr. Gorbachev's national security adviser, told the Monitor.

The leaders will sign an agreement on the basic principles of a Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) treaty, he predicted, with details to be worked out later.

But the retired military leader and other Soviet officials are far less upbeat when it comes to the other big item on the summit's arms control agenda - mutual reduction of the huge armies arrayed against each other in the center of Europe. That issue is closely linked to Soviet unease over the possibility of a reunified Germany with membership in the NATO alliance.

How to handle the German question may emerge as the summit's key problem. The Soviets have indicated that they will not withdraw their 380,000 troops from East Germany, the bulk of their forces stationed in Eastern Europe, until there is a satisfactory formula for reunification. Though there is no direct linkage with talks about conventional forces in Europe (CFE), Marshal Akhromeyev says, "I believe both have to be interrelated."

Hopes for reaching a CFE pact by year's end are fading fast. Mr. Akhromeyev refers sharply to the West "seeking unilateral advantage"' in the conventional talks. He reflects growing worries among Soviet military officials and conservative Communist Party leaders about the loss of what one Soviet security analyst calls their "security belt in Europe."

Western analysts have seen signs of a growing role of the Soviet military in Kremlin policymaking. The Soviets have stiffened their stance at the negotiating table, Western diplomatic sources here say. Although the military does not have the power or even the cohesion to control Gorbachev and the political leadership, the analysts say, it can influence them.

"In the last three months, there has been a hand extended to the military," says an informed Western diplomat. "Gorbachev has tried to give them something because he recognizes that their loyalty has been strained."

On the issue of German reunification, Gorbachev repeated Soviet objections to bringing all of Germany into NATO on the eve of his departure in an interview with Time Magazine.

"For us, it (NATO) is a symbol of the past, a dangerous and confrontational past. And we will never agree to assign it the leading role in building a new Europe," he told Time.

The Soviets have floated various ideas, including joint membership for a reunified Germany in both NATO and the Warsaw Pact alliances, an idea rejected by the West. …

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