Weinberger calls on NATO to improve conventional arms


BRUSSELS, Belgium -- Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger called on NATO allies Monday to strengthen their conventional defenses even as the first medium-range nuclear missiles are deployed in Europe.

'NATO stood very firm and fast (on the deployment issue) during a long period of heavy pressure brought against it from a number of sources,' Weinberger said on arriving from West Germany for a two-day meeting of NATO defense ministers.


'Now that deployment ... is proceeding on schedule, we can turn to some of the other vital matters, such as improving our conventional strength, taking advantage of emerging technologies,' he said.

As Weinberger arrived, European allies were assessing their defense efforts, focusing on cooperation between armed forces, joint training programs, armaments planning and logistics.

Norwegian Defense Minister Anders Sjaastad presided over a session of ambassadors of the Eurogroup, an association of all the European NATO states except France, which does not participate in the integrated command, and Iceland, which has no army.

The Europeans were to finish their separate conclave Tuesday and be joined later in the day by their U.S. and Canadian colleagues for a full meeting of NATO defense ministers.


A NATO source said the Eurogroup concentrated on the defense potential of emerging technologies and the 'two-way street' in arms supply. Europeans complain the United States buys far fewer arms in Europe than Europeans purchase in America.

The European allies also discussed a publicity effort to make their defense contribution better known in the United States. The Europeans want U.S. television networks to show a half-hour documentary on the subject next year.

NATO officials said Weinberger would stress the need to improve conventional armaments, and plead for a better sharing of the Western defense burden.

A U.S. official admitted European nations 'are doing more than they are generally credited for. On basis of comparison, however, many European nations are not making an effort comparable to that of the United States.'

The highlight of the five-day session will come Thursday and Friday when foreign ministers assess the alliance position after deployment of the first Pershing-2 and cruise missiles in Europe and the Soviet walkout from the Geneva arms control talks.

Officials expected Greece and Denmark to dissent if the alliance reaffirms its 1979 decision to deploy 572 Pershing-2 and cruise missiles in the next five years, failing an agreement in Geneva.


Greece has called for a delay in deployment pending further negotiations with the Soviets, and the Danish parliament instructed its government to disassociate itself from the deployment decision.

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