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FRENCH TROOPS WILL STAY IN W. GERMANY - FOR NOW

SHARE FRENCH TROOPS WILL STAY IN W. GERMANY - FOR NOW

French troops will stay in West Germany as long as the Soviet army remains in the eastern section of a united Germany, Defense Minister Jean-Pierre Chevenement said.

Chevenement made his comments after President Francois Mitterrand declared at the end of last week's NATO summit that "logic dictates that the French army should return home" once the four powers that have controlled Berlin since 1945 give up that role.The French defense minister said in a radio interview Sunday that the withdrawal of French troops from German soil hinged on the retreat of the Soviet army from the eastern part of a unified Germany.

Chevenement said Mitterrand had not announced the withdrawal of French troops but had simply made a logical prediction, given the evolving situation in Europe.

"Logic indicates that the French army should return home once the role of the four powers has ceased to exist, first on a political and diplomatic level and then on a military level," Mitterrand said at the end of the NATO summit.

France maintains about 50,000 soldiers in West Germany, including 2,800 based in Berlin that are part of an agreement dividing control of the former Nazi capital among the United States, England and France in the west and the Soviet Union in the east.