MOSCOW, AUG. 17 -- Soviet and West German foreign ministers said today that the four World War II victors and the two Germanys would likely sign an agreement here next month on the reunification of the German state.
After a day of meetings, Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze and West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher said at a joint press conference that when the two Germanys, the Soviet Union, the United States, France and Britain hold a round of "Two-plus-Four" meetings here Sept. 12, they expect to resolve any outstanding questions on the size and placement of military forces in a unified Germany.
Shevardnadze noted that the terms of unification already had been decided "in principle."
Since Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev gave his blessing in July to West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl on a unified Germany's membership in the Western allies' North Atlantic Treaty Organization, any remaining international resistance to German reunification has practically disappeared. In "general terms," Shevardnadze said, only a few minor disagreements remain to be resolved before the meetings here next month.
Officially the four allied powers, which have controlled Berlin since the end of World War II, must ratify the unification agreement in their respective legislatures before Germany is granted legal sovereignty. However, both Shevardnadze and Genscher said that even legislative delays would not forestall a quick reunification.
Genscher and Shevardnadze want to make sure that an agreement is reached during next month's Two-plus-Four talks, if only to avoid complications connected to the political and economic turmoil that have followed the overthrow of East Germany's Communist rulers last year.
Although a united Germany is not likely to hold national elections before December, the two German governments have agreed to complete unification by Oct. 15. Leaders in both governments have agreed that speeding the unification process may alleviate some of East Germany's severe economic problems.
This week East Germany's problems were further complicated when Prime Minister Lothar de Maiziere's ruling coalition was threatened with collapse. The Social Democrats, who have given de Maiziere a working majority, said they may leave the government.
German reunification could come even sooner than October if East Germany votes to become a part of the West German republic.