Moscow plans to pull 200,000 troops out of Asia and reduce its Pacific fleet within two years, a senior Soviet official said Thursday, challenging the United States to do the same.
"It's time to reduce the remnants of the Cold War in the Asia-Pacific region," said Vadim Medvedev, a close aide to President Mikhail S. Gorbachev.His comments to Korean businessmen came on the heels of this week's summit in Paris, where officials formally declared the Cold War over in Europe.
Medvedev, a member of the Soviet president's council of advisers, proposed that leaders in Asia meet for military consultations to speed up talks on arms control, the scaleback of forces and reduction of tensions.
"We are firmly convinced that it is impossible to realize progress in the Pacific region without the essential removal of military confrontation," he said. "Building on nuclear missiles has been continuing as before and naval exercises have not been reduced."
Medvedev said that by 1992 Soviet soldiers stationed in Mongolia will be pulled out and the Soviet presence in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, substantially reduced. He said the Soviet naval fleet in the Pacific will be "drastically reduced.
"It is important for the Soviet Union and the United States to be recognized as partners by ceasing to be military adversaries in the region," he said. "Despite positive developments, there have been virtually no changes in the military field."
Medvedev said the Soviet Union supports a North Korean proposal for the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea and backs the north's demands that the divided peninsula be made into a nuclear-free zone.
A planned December visit to Moscow by South Korean President Roh Tae-woo is seen as a milestone in Soviet-Korean relations that may lead to reduced tensions in Korea, Medvedev said.
The two nations established full diplomatic relations in September.