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'Trigger-happy' Soviet killed major, Kirkpatrick says

The Stars & Stripes
April 2, 1985

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The killing of a U.S. Army officer in East Germany was most likely the act of a "trigger-happy" Soviet soldier rather than the result of a new get-tough Soviet policy, outgoing U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick said Sunday.

"The Soviets have a tendency to shoot first and inquire later," Kirkpatrick said of the March 23 killing of Army Maj. Arthur D. Nicholson Jr. by a Soviet guard.

"I think that this is probably not a new policy on the part of the Soviet government . . . but the act of a single Soviet soldier who was probably trigger happy.

"If that's the case I think we would all hope that the Soviets would find it possible to apologize to the family and to the government," Kirkpatrick said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on her last day in office.

"We consider it a murder of an American officer serving in the line of duty; shot in cold blood," Kirkpatrick said.  "We think there is no ambiguity about whether he had the right to be doing what he was doing."

Kirkpatrick, who resigned from the United Nations to return to teaching, will be replaced by Vernon Walters.

Secretary of State George Shultz and Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin agreed on Saturday to a meeting of military commanders in Germany to discuss the Nicholson killing.

Nicholson was shot while on duty as a member of the U.S. Military Liaison Mission in East Germany.  The Soviets said he was taking photographs in a restricted area, a charge the State Department denied.

Dobrynin said the diplomatic meeting would be aimed at "closing the entire incident."  The State Department said the meeting would be aimed at ensuring there would be no repetition of the incident.


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