West Rejects Soviet Calls To Ease Trade Controls

Reuters News

January 29, 1988

PARIS, Jan 29 - The United States and its allies ignored Soviet calls for an easing of high technology export controls when the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (Cocom) met for the first time since last month's Washington summit, diplomats said.

At a two-day closed-door meeting, which ended Thursday in Versailles, Cocom agreed to redouble policing of sensitive exports to Soviet bloc countries.

Cocom, which comprises Japan and all Nato countries except Iceland, also said it would cut the list of restricted items by pruning older technology already freely available to the East.

"We agreed to erect higher fences around fewer items," one West European diplomat told Reuters today.

A U.S. official said the Cocom meeting imposed no timetable for a tightening of controls and specified no concrete measures.

The meeting was called at the urgent request of the United States, concerned that its allies were illegally exporting technology that was helping the Soviet bloc's military efforts.

With U.S. fears allayed over its allies' security efforts, trade of sensitive items between the western partners themselves will be loosened, West European diplomats said.

(c) 1988 Reuters Limited