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German Reunification Talks Set

NEITHER the four victors of World War II nor the two Germanys will wait for East German elections before beginning formal talks on German reunification. On March 9, representatives of the two Germanys will meet in East Berlin to discuss security and international aspects of a united Germany, according to a Foreign Ministry spokesman in Bonn.

The talks will prepare both German states for the first meeting of the ``two-plus-four'' group in Bonn next week, probably on March 14, the spokesman said.

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The ``two plus four'' formula includes the two Germanys and the four wartime Allies: the United States, the Soviet Union, France, and Britain. This format was agreed upon in Ottawa last month as the way to settle security questions raised by the marriage of two states in opposing military alliances.

Both sets of talks will cover technical and organizational subjects, such as a plan for future meetings and an outline of agenda topics.

Because the meetings will not set policy, ``it is appropriate'' that they occur before the East German elections on March 18, said a senior NATO official in a phone interview.

Unification will also be the topic when West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl visits Brussels on March 8.

There he will meet with NATO Secretary-General Manfred W"orner. Mr. Kohl is also expected to address the NATO council, the alliance's highest body.

A Western diplomat in Brussels described Kohl's trip, planned a few weeks ago, as a ``damage control'' mission. Some member countries are irritated that they are being left out of the reunification consultations, the diplomat said.

Apparently, the ``two-plus-four'' meeting was requested by the Soviet Union. The Soviets are concerned by the fast pace of unification. In talks with East German Prime Minister Hans Modrow this week, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said he favored a ``step-by-step'' approach.

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Moscow, in agreement with the provisional government in East Berlin, rejects speedy unification via Article 23 of the West German Constitution.

This provision, which allows German regions to become part of West Germany simply by accepting the its Constitution, would be the ``ideal way,'' Kohl said earlier this week.

The Constitution does provide for a second, longer route to unification, Article 146, which would involve drawing up a new constitution that would have to be approved by the people in a new German state.

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