Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 145

Nonproliferation issues and Russian-Iranian missile cooperation were only two of several topics discussed by U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov during their meeting in Manila on the night of July 27. According to a senior U.S. official, the two diplomats discussed the need for a number of initiatives aimed more broadly at stopping nations from acquiring nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Albright reportedly also both restated U.S. concerns over a deal by which Russia is to supply S-300 air defense missiles to Cyprus and urged Moscow not to deliver them. The missile deal has raised tensions in the region and delivery of the S-300s could precipitate a crisis between Greece and Turkey. Ankara has threatened to stop the missiles’ deployment, by force if necessary.

Primakov, in turn, was reported to have told Albright that the decision by President Clinton to attend the Russian-U.S. summit made ratification of START II by Russian lawmakers more likely. (Reuter, July 28) Russia’s Duma has raised numerous objections to the START II treaty, among them the Clinton administration’s decision to tie the scheduling of the summit to ratification of the treaty. The Duma is expected to take up consideration of START II this fall.

The talks between Albright and Primakov took place on the margins of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) annual conference. At the banquet concluding the conference diplomats from both countries reportedly brought down the house with their spirited rendition of “East-West Story”–a reworked version of the American musical “West Side Story.” (AP, July 28) The performance revealed once again the easy rapport that has developed between Albright and Primakov despite the sometimes rancorous nature of the issues under negotiation and the tensions that have developed in Russian-U.S. relations.