Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 30

Following more than six hours of talks over the weekend that both sides described as "productive" and "businesslike," U.S. secretary of state Warren Christopher and Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov played down differences between the two countries and pledged to consult on issues of mutual interest. The talks, which took place in Helsinki, Finland, were the first between the two men and marked Primakov’s first visit to the west since his appointment January 9 as foreign minister.

The most concrete result of the meeting appeared to be an informal agreement on principles governing relations between the two countries that ruled out surprise actions in favor of regular consultations, particularly on regional problems. As a start, U.S. officials said that Washington’s chief Middle East negotiator will go to Moscow to brief Russian officials on the Syrian-Israeli peace talks. The two sides also pledged to implement existing agreements, like the START II arms reduction treaty recently ratified by the U.S. Senate. Primakov reportedly told Christopher that getting ratification in the Russian parliament would not be an easy task, but that the Russian Defense Ministry did back the treaty. In general, U.S. officials were said to be pleased by Primakov’s pragmatism and preparation, and Christopher said that the two had gotten off "to a good start." (1)

…And Agree to Disagree.