Russia’s Foreign Ministry yesterday assailed Washington over what Moscow said were U.S. attempts to monopolize peace negotiations in the Middle East. Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, just returned to Moscow following three days of talks in the region, slammed Washington for its attempts to "act single-handedly in the effort to settle the crisis on the Israeli-Lebanese border." He said that Moscow, in contrast, was working in concert with France and the European Union. Primakov, who again criticized Israeli military attacks on Lebanon, also emphasized that Moscow views the withdrawal of Israeli forces from that country as the key to a resolution of the crisis there. Other ministry spokesmen, meanwhile, suggested that Russia had made progress in negotiations with Syria and Lebanon, and declared that "Russia was, is, and will remain in the Middle East." Deputy Foreign Minister Viktor Posuvalyuk was said to be continuing negotiations in the Middle East while Primakov accompanies Boris Yeltsin on his trip to China. (Reuter, Interfax, April 23)
The multiplying competition for the attention of Syrian president Hafez Assad appears to have had some affect. Yesterday he abruptly canceled a meeting with U.S. secretary of state Warren Christopher. Over the weekend, France, which has been consulting with Moscow, offered an alternative peace plan to that which the United States has drafted. (The New York Times, April 24)
Russia Tightens Banking Rules.