Russian Prime Minister-designate Sergei Kirienko yesterday assured Washington that Russia’s current political turmoil will neither slow economic reform efforts nor adversely effect Russian-U.S. relations. Kirienko’s remarks came during a meeting in Moscow with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott. Kirienko reportedly told Talbott that the current political standoff in Moscow is over personalities–not policies. “Our course for the continuation of reform remains unchanged,” he said. He also assured Talbott that the “processes connected with the formation of a new government [in Russia]… cannot have any negative effect on fruitful cooperation and the development of Russia-U.S. relations.”
Kirienko’s predecessor, former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, co-chaired a joint Russian-U.S. economic cooperation commission and was involved in the negotiation of some 200 accords over a five-year period. Kirienko yesterday assured Talbott that Russia would ensure implementation of those accords and other Moscow-Washington agreements. The two men also reportedly discussed preparations for an upcoming Group of Seven summit in England, at which the Russian and U.S. presidents are to meet for the first time this year. Kirienko and Talbott spoke as well on Russia’s ratification of the START II treaty and the crisis in Kosovo. Talbott held separate talks with acting Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov. A U.S. embassy spokesman said yesterday that Talbott’s visit was part of a regular series of consultations. (Reuter, AP, UPI, Russian agencies, April 20) But Washington undoubtedly wanted also to take a first-hand look at the situation in Moscow, where the government crisis is now nearly a month old.
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