Statement by Assistant
to the President for Press Relations Fitzwater on the Mutual and Balanced Force
September 24, 1987
Vienna today representatives
of the North
alliance and the Warsaw Pact opened the 43d session of the Mutual and Balanced
Force Reduction Talks (MBFR). The United States remains committed to
achieving a sound, verifiable agreement in MBFR to reduce and limit
conventional forces. The main threat to security and stability in Europe is the substantial
Warsaw Pact conventional superiority based on massive forward-deployed Soviet
forces. In MBFR, the U.S. and its NATO partners
seek to redress the conventional imbalance in central Europe through negotiated
force reductions to equal levels.
U.S. and the other Western MBFR participants believe
that their proposal of December 5, 1985, provides for an
effectively verifiable accord that meets this objective. The Western proposal
accepts a time-limited, first-phase framework as suggested by the Eastern side.
It calls for initial U.S. and Soviet troop
reductions, followed by a 3-year, no-increase commitment on manpower in the
central European zone, during which time both sides would verify remaining
President has instructed the U.S. delegation to the
negotiations to press for an Eastern response to this initiative. Thus far, the
Eastern side has failed to give a meaningful response to the West's proposal.
The United States and its allies call upon
the East to acknowledge the benefits for both sides in the Western proposal and
to respond positively in the new negotiating round.