News

Voice of America 3/13/97

RUSSIA / SUMMIT

BYLINE=PETER HEINLEIN
DATELINE=MOSCOW
CONTENT=
VOICED AT:

INTRO: RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER YEVGENY PRIMAKOV GOES TO WASHINGTON THIS WEEKEND FOR A TOUGH BARGAINING SESSION AHEAD OF THE U-S / RUSSIA SUMMIT IN HELSINKI. V-O-A'S PETER HEINLEIN IN MOSCOW REPORTS THE TWO COUNTRIES ARE WORKING FEVERISHLY TOWARD A BREAKTHROUGH ON EUROPEAN SECURITY AND DISARMAMENT ISSUES.

TEXT: MR. PRIMAKOV'S PRIVATE TALKS WITH U-S OFFICIALS, INCLUDING PRESIDENT CLINTON, ARE CONSIDERED CRITICAL. AN AMERICAN DIPLOMAT IN MOSCOW SAID MANY KEY QUESTIONS ARE STILL TO BE DECIDED LESS THAN A WEEK BEFORE PRESIDENT CLINTON AND RUSSIAN LEADER BORIS YELTSIN SIT DOWN TOGETHER.

NEVERTHELESS, BOTH NATIONS ARE HOPING FOR AN AGREEMENT IN HELSINKI BEFITTING A MEETING OF WHAT IN COLD WAR DAYS WERE CONSIDERED THE WORLD'S TWO SUPERPOWERS. AS ONE RUSSIAN ANALYST POINTED OUT, THEY STILL ARE THE TWO COUNTRIES WITH THE BIGGEST NUCLEAR ARSENALS, AND THAT IS ONE OF THE AREAS WHERE PROGRESS MIGHT BE MADE.

BUT WHILE OFFICIALS OF BOTH NATIONS REMAIN OPTIMISTIC, THEY ADMIT A WIDE GAP STILL SEPARATES THEM ON CRITICAL ISSUES.

KREMLIN SPOKESMAN SERGEI YASTRZHEMBSKY HAS TRIED TO DAMPEN EXPECTATIONS.

/// YASTRZHEMBSKY ACT, FADE UNDER ///

MR. YASTRZHEMSKY TOLD A GROUP OF RUSSIAN REPORTERS THE TALKS WILL BE CONCRETE, FIRM, EVEN TOUGH, BECAUSE, AS HE PUT IT, "WE ARE TALKING ABOUT PROTECTING RUSSIA'S INTERESTS."

THE SUMMIT DECLARATION IS EXPECTED TO TOUCH ON THREE MAIN AREAS -- ECONOMICS, DISARMAMENT, AND SECURITY IN EUROPE. THE THIRD, EUROPEAN SECURITY, INCLUDES THE QUESTION DRAWING THE MOST ATTENTION - -NATO EXPANSION.

AMERICAN OFFICIALS SAY THE NATO ISSUE MAY BE THE MOST DIFFICULT TO SETTLE AT HELSINKI. FOR ONE THING, PRESIDENT CLINTON DOES NOT WANT TO BE SEEN AS FORCING CONCESSIONS ON AMERICA'S ALLIES, AND PRESIDENT YELTSIN WANTS TO SHOW THE RUSSIAN PUBLIC HE WILL NOT CAVE IN TO WESTERN PRESSURE.

WHAT IS MORE LIKELY IS AN AGREEMENT ON FURTHER REDUCTION OF NUCLEAR ARSENALS. ANALYST IRINA KOBRINSKAYA OF MOSCOW'S CARNEGIE CENTER SAYS PRESIDENT YELTSIN, AWARE THE 1993 START-TWO ARMS TREATY IS BOGGED DOWN IN PARLIAMENT, WANTS TO PUSH AHEAD WITH A START-THREE ACCORD.

/// KOBRINSKAYA ACT ///

THE MAIN PROBLEM WITH THE START-TWO TREATY IS THAT IT IS TOO EXPENSIVE FOR RUSSIA TO IMPLEMENT IN TIME. SO THE ONLY POSSIBILITY FOR RUSSIA TO PROVIDE FOR ITS SECURITY EVEN BETTER THAN START-TWO TREATY CONDITIONS IS TO GO DIRECTLY TO START-THREE NEGOTIATIONS.

/// END ACT ///

ISSUES ASIDE, HOWEVER, MS. KOBRINSKAYA SAYS FOR PRESIDENT YELTSIN, THE SUMMIT WILL BE A SUCCESS SIMPLY BECAUSE IT MARKS HIS RETURN TO THE WORLD STAGE AFTER A LONG ILLNESS. IT WILL BE AN EVEN GREATER TRIUMPH IF HE CAN SHOW THE RUSSIAN PEOPLE HE IS ONCE AGAIN ON EVEN TERMS WITH THE MAN HE CALLS "MY FRIEND BILL". (SIGNED)

NEB/PFH/JWH

13-Mar-97 12:08 PM EST (1708 UTC)
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