Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 82

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Defense Secretary William Cohen made an unusual joint appearance before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on April 23 as part of the Clinton Administration’s efforts to win Congressional approval for NATO enlargement. Albright made clear in her remarks that the major sticking point in current Russian-NATO negotiations on a political agreement — which would open the way to enlargement — is Moscow’s insistence that the alliance give an iron-clad commitment not to deploy nuclear or conventional weaponry in newly admitted member states. Albright restated NATO’s position that "in the current and foreseeable security environment, we have no plan, no need, and no intention to station nuclear weapons in the new member countries, nor do we contemplate permanently stationing substantial combat forces." But she told the senators that the U.S. would continue to resist the Russian demands, a point that Cohen underscored when he said that "NATO will not accept any limits on its infrastructure." (Reuter, AP, April 23; The Washington Post, April 24)

Albright also told the senators that she would visit Russia next week in order to intensify negotiations on the Russian-NATO political agreement, and a Foreign Ministry source in Moscow said yesterday that Albright would arrive for two days of talks on May 1. Her counterpart, Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov (who is convalescing from surgery), is scheduled to meet for another round of talks on the same set of issues with NATO secretary-general Javier Solana in Luxembourg on May 6. (UPI, April 23; Interfax, April 24) The Kremlin has repeatedly suggested its desire to sign the agreement with NATO next month — well before the alliance’s July summit in Madrid — and presidential press secretary Sergei Yastrzhembsky said yesterday that the Russian president continues to view May 27 as a "desirable date" for the signing. Yastrzhembsky also said that Yeltsin would closely monitor Primakov’s talks with Albright and Solana and that the scheduling of the signing ceremony would depend upon their results. (Interfax, April 24)

Meanwhile, the Russian Duma yesterday overwhelmingly approved a statement calling for all state authorities to hold a national day of protest against NATO enlargement on May 9. In addition, the Duma issued an address to the parliaments of NATO member countries urging them to take measures aimed at preventing enlargement. (Interfax, April 24)

Senate Action on Chemical Treaty Puts Pressure on Russian Duma.