Aside from the two accords described above, the latest Russian-U.S. summit produced–as had been expected–only meager results. At a desultory final press conference yesterday that contrasted with the spirited welcome given the U.S. president by Boris Yeltsin a day earlier, Clinton reiterated his call for Russia to maintain its economic reform program and Yeltsin repeated his promise to do so. Clinton also pledged to back new international financial aid for Moscow, but on the condition that Russia press ahead with market reforms. In addition, the two men issued one joint statement expressing concern over tensions in Kosovo and another calling on Iraq to comply with UN Security Council resolutions. With regard to the Kosovo conflict, the U.S. president said that he and Yeltsin had agreed that the Serbian government should stop its “repressive actions.” They had also, Clinton said, agreed to intensify joint Russian-U.S. cooperation against terrorism. (UPI, Reuter, AP, Russian agencies, September 2)
But Yeltsin and Clinton also sounded discordant notes on several issues that have long separated Moscow and Washington. Yeltsin indicated that he had restated Russia’s displeasure over Washington’s use of force to settle regional disputes. “There is no military solution to present-day conflicts, whether it be Kosovo, the situation around Iraq, Afghanistan and others,” he said. Prior to this week’s summit, Yeltsin had harshly criticized the recent U.S. air strikes on terrorist targets in Sudan and Afghanistan. Moscow has also long opposed threatened U.S. (or Western) military actions in the former Yugoslavia and Iraq. Yeltsin also reiterated Russia’s opposition to NATO’s planned enlargement, calling it, as the Kremlin has in the past, a “historical mistake.” (Reuter, Russian agencies, September 2)
One additional area of discussion that appeared yesterday to yield some concrete positive results involved U.S.-Russian cooperation in stopping the proliferation of dual-use (both civilian and military application) technologies. Talks in this area have in the past focused especially on American concerns over the leakage of Russian missile technologies to Iran. The two sides reportedly agreed yesterday to set up expert groups over the next several months which will seek to ensure better oversight by both Moscow and Washington over the export of sensitive technologies. To this end, the expert groups will reportedly tackle nuclear issues, missile and space technologies, monitoring of conventional weapons transfers and a series of other cooperative endeavors. (Itar-Tass, September 2)
Clinton used a separate meeting yesterday with a group of key Russian lawmakers and regional leaders to restate his call for Moscow to avoid backsliding from economic reform. The group included Krasnoyarsk governor and political maverick Aleksandr Lebed, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, Communist Party chief Gennady Zyuganov and Yabloko faction leader Grigory Yavlinsky. All four men are believed to be likely candidates for Russia’s next presidential election. Liberal Democratic leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who was not invited to meet with Clinton, reportedly stood outside the hotel of the American delegation on September 1 and shouted insults at the U.S. president. (Ren TV, September 1)
JAPAN HAILS RUSSIAN-U.S. MISSILE AGREEMENT.