Delegates to a CFE review conference in Vienna expressed the hope yesterday that a dispute raised by Moscow over flank limitations — restrictions on military equipment deployed along Russia’s northern and southern borders — will not hinder efforts to win unanimous reaffirmation of the 1990 treaty. A member of the German delegation, pointing to talks between the U.S. and Russian delegations, said optimistically that discussions on the flank issue will be quickly concluded. His conclusion seemed to be backed up by U.S. delegation chief Thomas Graham, who said that Washington did not want complex issues like flank limitations to hold up the conference, which ends May 31. The U.S. goal, he said, is "to secure a strong endorsement of the treaty" that says it will "remain a cornerstone of European security." (Reuter, May 15)
But Russian deputy foreign minister Georgi Mamedov yesterday used the conference as a forum to attack NATO enlargement, repeating Russian arguments that enlargement further erodes the logic underpinning a treaty that was negotiated when two military blocs faced each other in Europe. Mamedov pointed to what he called the "unequal security of members of military and political alliances and states which are not members," and declared that the CFE Treaty needs "urgent reinforcement, improvement, and adaptation." (Reuter, May 15) Russia is presently in technical violation of the treaty, primarily because of its ongoing military operations in the Caucasus. Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton reportedly made progress on the flank issue during bilateral talks last month in Moscow.
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