U.S. president Bill Clinton said yesterday that he expects a summit meeting with Boris Yeltsin to go ahead as planned in March, and that Russian officials have not given Washington any reason to think otherwise. (Reuter, January 28) But a U.S. newspaper reports that senior White House officials are in fact growing concerned over the apparently halting pace of the Russian president’s recovery from heart surgery and double pneumonia. These officials are said to be fearful that Yeltsin’s incapacity is stopping the Kremlin from moving actively on a number of key security and domestic policy issues. One official was quoted as saying that "there are inevitably certain decisions which are presidential" and must await Yeltsin’s return to office and his full involvement in policy deliberations. Three issues over which the U.S. Administration is said to be especially concerned are NATO enlargement, ratification by the Russian parliament of the START II Treaty, and the enactment by Russia of economic reform measures that will help boost foreign investment. (The Washington Post, January 28)
In an effort to ease concerns abroad over Yeltsin’s health, Kremlin press spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky announced yesterday that the Russian leader would meet as planned with French president Jacques Chirac in Moscow on February 2. Aside from questions of bilateral relations, NATO enlargement and European security issues will reportedly top the agenda during those talks. Chirac met yesterday in Paris with NATO secretary general Javier Solana in preparation for his Moscow trip. (Interfax, Itar-Tass, January 28) Meanwhile, a Russian deputy foreign minister announced yesterday that plans are also going forward for a scheduled April summit meeting in Moscow between Yeltsin and Chinese leader Jiang Zemin. (Interfax, April 28)
Russians Stung by Criticism of Space Station Efforts.