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WHO SHOULD LEAD THE POLAND-RELIEF EFFORTS?

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Poland is pressing President Bush to lead relief efforts for its new non-Communist government, but Western leaders have made clear they see the matter as primarily Europe's responsibility.

Participants at last week's East-West security conference in Frankfurt, called "Security in the 1990s," indicated they will continue to approach financial aid for reform-oriented East European states as in the security interests of all Western nations.Chancellor Helmut Kohl's government already has promised more than $1 billion in debt relief to Poland, and projects to aid Hungary in its move toward a multiparty democracy are also in the works in advance of Kohl's visit to Budapest in December.

The Group of Seven wealthy democracies decided at their summit in Paris in July to coordinate aid to Poland and Hungary through the European Economic Community based in Brussels, Belgium.

Poland, however, would like to see Washington lead the effort.

"It's soon to become a question of whether we have a Marshall Plan or martial law," said Dariusz K. Rosati, director of Warsaw's Foreign Trade Research Institute.

"I say this to help visualize the dramatic choice facing the Western side," he said in an interview.

The Marshall Plan was a broad U.S.-financed aid program that helped West Germany rebuild itself into an economic powerhouse after the destruction of World War II.

Some West German politicians have suggested a similar relief effort be organized for Poland and Hungary to help rebuild economies that have been ravaged by four decades of socialism.

Meanwhile, the Soviet Communist Party newspaper Pravda warned the United States on Saturday not to take advantage of rapid change in Eastern Europe to topple communism and said American meddling would destabilize the entire continent.

"It would be shortsighted not to see that forces are still at work in the United States, which believe that they have never been so close to implementing their anti-socialist plans," Pravda said.