Russian president Boris Yeltsin’s speech to the peacemakers summit in Egypt yesterday appeared designed to make several key points. First, in declaring Moscow’s determination to root out international terrorism, Yeltsin made clear that Russia viewed the Chechen rebels as a terrorist force and that he expects the world’s sanction for the Kremlin’s military operations in the Caucasus. "There must be no double standards," he said. Second, he emphasized the centrality of Israeli-Syrian relations to a broad Middle East settlement. Third, he reminded summit participants of Moscow’s role in the 1991 Madrid conference, which was instrumental in launching the process that led ultimately to breakthrough agreements between Israel and both Jordan and the Palestinians.
Finally, Yeltsin called for reconvening the Madrid conference "in Moscow or any other place" as a means of getting the Middle East peace process back on track. He was joined in that effort by Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Lebanon. (1) Syria and Lebanon refused to participate in the Egyptian summit. Noting Syria’s interest in restoring formerly close ties to Moscow, a Russian commentary observed on the eve of the summit that Russia might now be able to parlay its influence in Tehran and Damascus into a much strengthened position in the Middle East. (2) That strategy seemed to underlie Yeltsin’s summit performance.
Intelligence Services Well Represented at Summit.