MOSCOW, JULY 14 -- Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev today accepted an invitation to visit NATO headquarters in Brussels and gave the Western alliance's secretary general a proposal for a future joint declaration by NATO and the Warsaw Pact, according to official reports.
NATO Secretary General Manfred Woerner announced Gorbachev's acceptance after talks with the Kremlin leader and Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze.
Woerner's trip to the Soviet Union is the first ever by a NATO leader. Since the alliance's formation following World War II, the Kremlin leadership has regarded NATO's military might as a major threat to Soviet security and its officials as enemies to be kept at arm's length.
The invitation to Gorbachev and other Warsaw Pact leaders to visit NATO headquarters was issued at a NATO summit in London last week. No date has been set for the Gorbachev visit.
During their meeting, Gorbachev handed Woerner "outlines of his ideas about the future joint declaration of the Warsaw Pact and NATO," the Soviet news agency Tass reported. No details were released, however.
In a separate meeting today, Woerner and Shevardnadze discussed plans for diplomatic contacts between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, Woerner said.
During a 45-minute press conference this evening, Woerner stressed the positive turn in relations between East and West. He said he told Gorbachev that he thinks of the Soviet Union not as an adversary, but as a future partner. "I said to President Gorbachev, 'We trust you and you can trust us,' " Woerner told journalists.
Woerner skirted questions about exchanges he had with Soviet officials over whether a unified Germany would be included in NATO, a move Moscow opposes. West Germany belongs to NATO, but East Germany is part of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact.
At first Woerner said the issue had not been raised in the day's talks. "Today we did not discuss German membership in NATO," he said. "Since my Soviet partners did not raise the issue, I saw no reason to raise it."
He later acknowledged. however, that the subject had come up, but not in the context of unification of the two Germanys.
In an earlier press conference, Shevardnadze told Soviet journalists that he and Woerner had discussed the subject of unification, according to Tass, but no details of the conversation were given.
Woerner is a West German who formerly served as defense minister in Bonn. West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who arrived tonight and will hold talks with Gorbachev on Sunday.
The flurry of high-level contacts between the Soviet and West German officials occurs at a time when relations between the two countries are becoming closer.
Both Gorbachev and Woerner commented today on the extraordinary significance of a NATO leader in the Soviet capital. "It is a moving moment for me personally and as secretary general of NATO," Woerner said. Reflecting on the visit, Gorbachev, in turn, told Woerner that "the limits of the possible" are expanding, Tass reported.