East-bloc allies call for `fresh approaches' to end arms race
The Warsaw Pact countries called today for a ``fresh approach'' between East and West to restrain the arms race. Predictably, they also called for a ``positive'' response from the United States to Soviet proposals for a ban on space-weapons systems and a mutual 50-percent cut in nuclear strike arsenanls.
And, at the end of a two-day summit meeting, the pact's political consultative committee unveiled what it called a ``new proposal'': that the Soviet Union and the US both freeze the strength of their armed forces beyond their national borders at levels reached by January of next year.
At a Warsaw Pact news conference, Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister Ivan Ganev said the initiative applied to the two countries' armed forces on ``a worldwide basis,'' and not only to the freeze levels already proposed in the Vienna talks on troop reductions in Central Europe.
Mr. Ganev's said his statement covered all the main points of a lengthy communiqu'e to be released later. In fact, the document, with its emphasis on unanimous support for all Soviet proposals on nuclear and conventional disarmament and of Soviet opposition to President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI, or ``star wars,'' as it is popularly known), can be seen as a Soviet position statement directly preceding next month's Geneva summit between Mr. Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
It is clearly aimed at influencing world opinion, in particular Western opinion, and it maintains the new public-relations style exhibited by Mr. Gorbachev in his recent visit to France.
The Soviet leader declined to meet the press, out of deference to the host nation and also to preserve the image of his allies being equal partners within the alliance.
Ganev's news conference was without precedent. Previously in the Warsaw Pact's 30-year history, meetings of its political consultative committee, the pact's highest authority, always have been held under conditions of total secrecy, with the exception of a broadly worded communiqu'e.
Never before has there been a press conference, with a spokesman making a statement in some detail and answering questions from the press.
Not surprisingly, the Soviet Union and its allies were most forthright in condemning Reagan's ``star wars'' initiative. The danger of the arms race being transferred to outer space and thereby threatening to destabilize the overall strategic situation between the two superpowers was alluded to no fewer than five times.
Equally predictably the US was blamed for the heightening of world tensions, as a result of its generally ``imperialist'' policies and its alleged striving for ``military superiority.'' The ``allied socialist states'' are not seeking military superiority, the declaration says, ``but would not allow military superiority over themeslves.''
Ganev also said that if the US should take SDI beyond its present research limits, then the Soviet Union would have no option but do likewise.
He added that the declaration urges a freeze on existing nuclear weapons, a halt to testing and deployment of new types of missiles and of medium-range missiles, and the Soviet Union and the US to stop any activitites on developing, testing, and deploying offensive space-based weapons.
He also repeated the litany of previous ``unilateral initiatives of goodwill'' proposed by the Soviet Union: moratoriums on all nuclear explosions and on medium-range deployment in Europe, removal of Soviet SS-20 missiles posted on its European territory following US missile deployment in Western Europe, nuclear-free zones, and a nonaggression pact between NATO and the Warsaw Pact.
``Now,'' he says, ``it is the turn of the US to follow these positive example with similar constructive steps.
``What is needed is a fresh political approach releated to the realities of the present-day world and mutual restraint.''