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New Euromissile feeler by USSR

Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev has thrown forth Moscow's latest rephrasing of a call for nuclear missile limits in Europe -- wording which, if taken literally, could signal a major shift. But Monitor correspondent Ned Temko reports that diplomats here say the reformulation, made at a dinner for West German Social Democratic Party chairman Willy Brandt, is vague enough to make reliable interpretation all but impossible.

In February, Mr. Brezhnev called for a "moratorium" on deployment of medium-range nuclear missiles in Europe, including the European part of the USSR. He said this would include "all preparations for the deployment of . . . additional weapons," explicitly counting in NATO plans to base new US missiles in Western Europe starting in 1983.

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In his latest remarks, the President said only that the US must "tell us that during the talks [on missile limits] it will not build up its medium- range nuclear means in Europe." This could allow NATO to hold firm on its decision to deploy new missiles as long as none was introduced during the talks -- a safe bet at least until 1983.

Western diplomats have watched with growing skepticism a series of what they consider decorative reformulations of the February proposal. Some suspect the comments, like earlier Soviet rephrasings, might be geared largely toward piquing Western -- particularly West European -- curiosity and thus increasing momentum toward earl y talks.

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