EAST-WEST: Historic Tea Party in Helsinki

ON a windswept Baltic inlet only a few miles from Helsinki sits a starkly modern building, an angular Finnish masterpiece in white pine and fieldstone, which houses the student union of Helsinki's Technical University. There, around a hollow six-sided table, the representatives of 32 European countries plus the U.S. and Canada took their places last week to begin talks that may lead to the most significant conference in Europe's postwar history.

At best, the Helsinki negotiations could lead to an overcoming of the old hostilities and suspicions and the establishment of a new...