U.S. confirms it will boycott Elbe rites

Stars & Stripes
2 April 1985

WASHINGTON (UPI) The United States will boycott the 40th anniversary observance of the World War II linking of Soviet and U.S. troops on Germany's Elbe River because of the killing of a U.S. Army officer by a Russian guard.

The State Department confirmed Monday that the United States won't send an official military group to the ceremony.

"We don't consider it appropriate under the circumstances," spokesman Bernard Kalb said, in a reference to the shooting last week of Army Maj. Arthur D. Nicholson Jr. by a Soviet sentry in East Germany.

Robert Swan Jr., one of the veterans who is organizing the Elbe ceremony, said the group had expected, at most, a U.S. military color guard to attend the April 25 ceremony.  About 200 U.S. veterans are expected to take part in the ceremony.

Kalb said the United States is seeking an early meeting with Soviet military officials in Germany to discuss liaison missions in East and West Germany.  The aim, he said, is to avoid a repetition of the incident.

Low-level military officers are to meet on April 10, he said, to discuss preparations for a meeting by high-ranking military officials.  The talks were agreed to Saturday in a meeting between Secretary George Shultz and Anatoly Dobrynin, Soviet ambassador to Washington.

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Thanks to B. Knight for this article.

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