One day after their planned meeting was unexpectedly postponed, U.S. vice president Al Gore met with Russian president Boris Yeltsin for about 45 minutes yesterday at a government sanatorium outside of Moscow. After their talks, which were described by both sides as friendly, Gore said that the ailing Russian president "looks good," and described him as "actively engaged" and seemingly "in very good shape." Yeltsin has been in virtual seclusion since June 26 and Gore’s impressions on his health have been keenly awaited. But Gore’s claim was contradicted by Reuters correspondent Lawrence McQuillan, who accompanied Gore to Moscow. McQuillan, who last saw Yeltsin on the campaign trail in April, said he was shocked by the deterioration in the president’s appearance when he saw him again yesterday. "The man I saw in April was full of vigor. The man I saw on Tuesday had a hard time walking," McQuillan reported. Speculation has focused on the possibility that Yeltsin may have suffered a return of his earlier heart problems. But the Washington Post reported on July 16 that "several Russian political sources have said in recent interviews that they believe Yeltsin suffered a breakdown, perhaps from exhaustion and depression," shortly before the second round of the presidential election earlier this month. (Reuter, Washington Post, July 16)
Gore said after the meeting that he and Yeltsin had discussed arms control, ways to increase investment in Russia, economic reform, and the crisis in the Balkans. According to Russian presidential spokesman Sergei Medvedev, Yeltsin had told Gore that he backs an early ratification of the START II Treaty and that Moscow will also mount efforts to win acceptance of a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty. Yeltsin reportedly assured Gore that he would do everything possible to create a favorable environment in Russia for foreign investors. He did not appear with Gore in the press conference that followed their meeting. (UPI, Itar-Tass, July 16)
…As Russian Assurances on Chechnya Ring Hollow.