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Nato Members Agree to Improve Conventional Defense Forces in Mideast, Europe

The European members of NATO agreed yesterday to improve their conventional defense forces in Europe and the Middle East to match the rise in strength of the Soviet bloc. The Defense Planning Committee of the alliance adopted a program called “Alliance for the Seventies” which stresses a build-up of armored, air and anti-submarine forces. U.S. sources said that Soviet ground forces in Eastern Europe and naval forces in the Mediterranean had increased sharply in the last five years. (In New York, U.S. Defense Secretary Melvin Laird, interviewed last night on David Frost’s television show, said he thought an American-Soviet military confrontation within the next two decades was “quite remote.” Mr. Laird did not mention the Middle East or any other world trouble spot in that connection.)