Developments in Africa reportedly figured prominently in a thirty-minute April 6 telephone conversation between U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin. The two were said to have discussed how Moscow and Washington might cooperate in Africa, a region riven by U.S.-Soviet rivalry during the Cold War. Clinton had just returned from a lengthy visit to Africa aimed at raising America’s profile there. Moscow recently hosted a visit by Namibian President Sam Nujoma, about which Russian sources underscored what they said was Nujoma’s call for Russia to play a greater role on the continent. (See Monitor, April 1)
Clinton and Yeltsin reportedly also discussed recent political events in Russia and Prime Minister-designate Sergei Kirienko’s chances for confirmation. Clinton was said to have emphasized the importance to Washington of Moscow’s ratification of the START II strategic arms reduction treaty. (Reuter, AP, UPI, April 6) After pledging to do so many times, Kremlin leaders seem at last to have stepped up Duma efforts to accomplish this. The Clinton administration has indicated its unwillingness to schedule the next Clinton-Yeltsin summit until after Russian ratification.
The two presidents were said also to have discussed the situation in Iraq. Earlier on April 6, Russia’s Foreign Ministry released a statement saying that the results of recent UN weapons inspections in Iraq — which have produced no evidence of weapons of mass destruction — raise the issue of lifting the oil embargo on Iraq. The Russian statement also contained a thinly veiled swipe at the United States. It held that the latest inspections proved the correctness of the recent diplomatic settlement of the Iraq crisis. In that vein, it also argued that the UN is best advised to pursue a policy of cooperation — rather than confrontation — in its dealings with Iraqi authorities. (Russian agencies, Reuter, April 6) The United States is unlikely to agree with any of those conclusions.
Yeltsin Stands by His Man.