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Nuclear-free Baltic area proposed by Andropov

Soviet leader Yuri Andropov said the Kremlin would be prepared to discuss turning the Baltic Sea into a nuclear weapons-free zone if Scandinavian countries barred atomic weapons from their territories.

The offer, made at a speech in honor of visiting President Mauno Koivisto of Finland, implied Moscow would be ready to negotiate a pledge to keep its nuclear-armed submarines out of the area.

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Mr. Andropov's offer marked a new step in Moscow's efforts to invigorate a longstanding Finnish proposal for an atomic-free region covering all the Scandinavian states. Norway and Denmark, which are both members of the NATO alliance, have been cool toward the idea.