Moscow was a hub of diplomatic activity yesterday. In addition to the arrival of Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, the city played host to visits by foreign ministers from two of Russia’s major Western partners: Canada and Germany. Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy concluded a two-day visit to Russia yesterday, during which he held talks both with his Russian counterpart, Igor Ivanov, and with Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov. Economic issues reportedly topped the agenda, and the two sides also continued preparations for Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien’s scheduled visit to Moscow in January of next year. Ivanov downplayed a decision to cancel a Canadian trade and economic mission that was to have accompanied Chretien. In anticipation of Canada’s assumption next year of a seat on the UN Security Council, the two sides reportedly also discussed a number of key international issues (Russian agencies, November 11).
In the course of a brief stay in the Russian capital yesterday, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer also held talks with both Ivanov and Primakov. Fischer is to be followed to Moscow next week by recently elected German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Those talks are viewed as especially important by Moscow. Germany is one of Russia’s largest trading partners and relations between President Boris Yeltsin and former German Chancellor had been especially close. The new German government has reiterated its intention to maintain the foreign policy course followed by its predecessor. That position was restated by Fischer yesterday in Moscow. There are still concerns in Moscow, however, that the recent change of government in Germany will lead to a downgrading of relations with Russia. As was the case with Axworthy, Fischer was reportedly interested especially in learning the details of the Russian government’s economic anti-crisis program (Reuters, Russian agencies, November 11).
CHECHEN PRESIDENT STRIPS OPPONENT OF MILITARY RANK.