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SHEVARDNADZE LAUDS NATO FOR NEW STANCE ON N-ARMS

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Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze on Saturday hailed the outcome of a historic NATO summit, saying the alliance's new stances on nuclear arms and troop levels are "serious steps aimed at meeting us halfway."

The heads of state from the 16 NAT0 countries, seeking to assure Moscow that the West is not a threat, concluded a two-day conference in London Friday with a declaration renouncing first use of atomic weapons and agreeing to negotiate possible troop reductions in a united Germany."An opportunity is emerging to make substantial progress in consolidating stability and confidence in Europe and the world as a whole," Shevardnadze told delegates to the 28th Communist Party Congress.

The NATO statement endorsed an enhanced role for the 35-nation Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, in line with Moscow's urging in recent months that the military roles of NATO and the Warsaw Pact be reduced and the two blocs move toward mutual assistance.

"The stands of NATO and the USSR . . . are identical in many respects," Shevardnadze said. "So these are serious steps aimed at meeting us halfway."

President Mikhail Gorbachev, whom the Western leaders invited to address them in the future, welcomed the alliance's revamped strategy Friday, and Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennadi Gerasimov said NATO Secretary-General Manfred Woerner will visit Moscow next week to discuss the rapid changes in Europe.

Delegates to the Communist conclave sharply criticized Shevardnadze and fellow Politburo member Aleksander Yakovlev, accusing them of losing Eastern Europe to anti-communist forces and prompting the disintegation of the Warsaw Pact.

"It is not the socialist system that has collapsed, but the system of distorted notions of socialism," Shevardnadze told the congress.