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WHERE THE CANDIDATES STAND ON FOREIGN POLICY. In a complex and changing world, only the president can represent the interests of the United States abroad. First in a series on the candidates and the issues. DUKAKIS [ cf. BUSH ]

MULTILATERAL action. Cooperation. Law. These - rather than unilateralism - should be central to United States foreign policy, says Michael Dukakis. As the nation faces new global threats - debt, trade imbalances, arms transfers, drugs, terrorism, regional conflicts - it should stress working together with other nations instead of adopting a go-it-alone approach that relies primarily on military force, the Democratic nominee asserts.

International institutions like the United Nations do not always work, Governor Dukakis acknowledges, but they should have a respected role and be utilized. Military action, he says, should be a ``last resort'' only after diplomacy and international efforts are exhausted.

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Consistent with this view, Mr. Dukakis voices skepticism about many Reagan actions, including the intervention in Grenada and the reflagging of Kuwaiti ships in the Gulf. He strongly opposes the administration's Central America policy, including aid for the contra rebels in Nicaragua. The latter, he says, is ``illegal,'' claiming it violates the Rio Treaty of 1947 and other pacts signed by the US.

``Under the Constitution, those treaties are the law of our land,'' Dukakis states. ``And those treaties prohibit what we are now doing in Nicaragua.''

Dukakis has put himself squarely on the side of President Reagan's policy of rapprochement with the Soviet Union.

He supported the INF (Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces) Treaty and backs the START (strategic arms reductions) negotiations. He favors moving beyond START and assigns a high priority to a comprehensive test-ban treaty, a moratorium on flight testing of ballistic missiles, and a drive against nuclear proliferation.

New thinking in the Kremlin affords the US new opportunities, Dukakis says, but it is ``blind'' to think everything has changed in the Soviet Union.

Mikhail Gorbachev, he says, should be ``challenged'' by the US to reduce conventional arms; stop supporting terrorists in the Middle East and arming Nicaragua; cease selling ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear or chemical warheads; help achieve a Mideast peace; and carry out the Helsinki human rights accords.

Strongly supporting NATO, Dukakis says the US should maintain a robust defense and ``stable'' defense budgets. But he believes the Europeans and Japan should shoulder more of the allied defense burden.

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On other issues:

The Middle East. Dukakis says he is committed to Israel's security and promises ``generous levels of military and economic assistance to both Israel and Egypt.'' He pledges not to sell weapons to Arab countries that refuse to make peace with Israel. He supports moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The Arab-Israeli dispute should be settled through direct negotiation, Dukakis says. The PLO should not take part unless it recognizes Israel's right to exist, accepts UN Resolution 242, and renounces terrorism. Dukakis says he recognizes the ``legitimate rights'' of the Palestinians, but he would not accept a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state or government in exile.

Latin and Central America. Dukakis backs the Arias peace plan for Central America. He says that he would not countenance new Soviet bases in the region, but that the US must learn to work with political systems that do not conform to the American model.

He proposes a new ``partnership'' with Latin American leaders to ease the debt crisis; meet food and other basic needs; and promote increased trade. Mexico should be a priority concern, he stresses.

South Africa. Dukakis charges that South Africa is engaged in ``blatant racism'' through its apartheid policies and in ``terrorist acts'' against neighboring countries. He calls for tougher economic sanctions and an agreement with allies for a more comprehensive trade embargo.

Foreign aid. Criticizing what he sees as the militarization of US foreign aid, Dukakis would direct funds away from military assistance to combatting famine and poverty.

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