Pessimism continued to prevail in Moscow yesterday as Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told reporters that negotiators have failed to make progress in their efforts to broker a peace settlement in the Balkans. “Very active and intensive consultations are underway and unfortunately it is too early to speak of any tangible progress,” Ivanov was quoted as saying.
The foreign minister’s remarks came as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott arrived in the Russian capital for yet another round of talks on Kosovo. Talbott held preparatory talks yesterday with diplomats in Moscow and is to meet today with Russian special Balkans envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin and Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari. Ivanov, meanwhile, was scheduled to fly to Sweden today for talks of his own with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and then to Beijing for talks with the Chinese leadership. Chernomyrdin is set to return to Belgrade tomorrow.
Both the U.S. and the Russian sides conceded yesterday that differences over Kosovo have soured relations between Russia and the West. “I’m well aware of the strains that the NATO airstrike campaign has created in both U.S.-Russian relations and NATO-Russian relations, and indeed the strain it creates here in Russia itself,” Talbott said. He nevertheless found some cause for hope in what he said were Washington’s and Moscow’s joint efforts to find a solution to the Balkans crisis (Reuters, AP, Russian agencies, May 25-26).
RUSSIA TALKS ANEW OF AMENDING ITS MILITARY DOCTRINE.