Statement on Resumption of the Mutual and Balanced Force Reductions Negotiations

March 16, 1984

I am pleased to note the resumption in Vienna today of the negotiations on conventional force reductions in Europe, known as the MBFR talks. The U.S. Representative, Ambassador Morton Abramowitz, and his NATO colleagues will be working closely together in seeking early progress toward an agreement to reduce NATO and Warsaw Pact forces in Central Europe to a substantially lower and equal level.

The Western participants in MBFR are united in their pursuit of positive results. I call upon the Soviet Union and the other nations of the Warsaw Pact to join us in a good-faith effort to achieve real progress.

The MBFR talks are an important part of the East-West security and arms control dialog. The resumption of MBFR coincides with the conclusion today of the first round of the CDE talks in Stockholm, which deal with military confidence-building measures in Europe. Here, too, the Western nations are working closely together. During the initial round, we have tabled a comprehensive package of proposed measures to reduce the risk of war.

I welcome these developments and sincerely hope that General Secretary Chernenko and other members of the new Soviet leadership will approach these negotiations in a similarly positive spirit. I also urge the Soviet Union to return to the INF and START negotiations, where very important work in the cause of building a more secure and peaceful world has been suspended by them. These crucial negotiations can succeed if the Soviet Union wants them to succeed. We are certainly ready to do our part. It is in the interest of all mankind that these vital efforts be resumed now.