In addition to bilateral issues, Yeltsin and Prodi reportedly also discussed a number of international security issues, including NATO’s enlargement and the crisis in the Persian Gulf. According to Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky, Yeltsin reiterated Moscow’s opposition to NATO’s expansion plans. He particularly underscored Russia’s hostility toward admitting former Soviet states into the western alliance. Yeltsin also restated Moscow’s warning that any effort to admit former Soviet states would lead Russia to reconsider the entire range of its relations with NATO, including the Russia-NATO Founding Act. Following parallel talks yesterday in Rome, Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov and his Italian counterpart, Lamberto Dini, issued a communique applauding closer relations between Russia and the EU. They also agreed that joint work on a future European Security charter could provide additional opportunities for Russian-European cooperation. (Itar-Tass, February 10)
Not surprisingly, the crisis in the Persian Gulf was also on yesterday’s agenda. Yeltsin reportedly restated Moscow’s call for a peaceful settlement to the Iraqi crisis and suggested to Prodi that the two sides saw eye-to-eye on the matter. The Russian president also repeated his contention that U.S. military strikes on Iraq could lead to a broader conflagration. He charged that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan had been pressured one day earlier into canceling a trip to Iraq. (Itar-Tass, ORT, February 10; see yesterday’s Monitor) Moscow would like the secretary general assume a stronger role in resolving the Iraq crisis, and had seen in Annan’s proposed visit to Baghdad implicit backing for its own diplomatic efforts in the Iraqi capital.
Yeltsin Described as "Befuddled" During Rome Visit.