Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov said yesterday that Moscow is prepared to sign a NATO-Russian political agreement in Paris on May 27 if drafting of the document is completed by that time. Primakov, whose remarks followed a meeting with French president Jacques Chirac at the Elysee palace, said that he had "been authorized" by Russian president Boris Yeltsin to give Moscow’s consent to the French proposal. Yeltsin would join the leaders of the 16 NATO member-states in Paris for the signing, Primakov said. At a dinner honoring Primakov, also yesterday, French foreign minister Herve de Charette expressed his confidence that a "reasonable compromise, the kind which will take into account the worries of Russia," will be reached prior to the Western Alliance’s July summit in Madrid. De Charette also announced that French president Jacques Chirac will visit Russia on September 25-27. (Itar-Tass, Xinhua, April 9)
Yesterday’s announcements came at the conclusion of two days of talks in Paris during which Primakov continued to emphasize Moscow’s opposition to NATO enlargement and the Kremlin’s willingness to negotiate a political agreement with NATO only as a means to "minimize the consequences" of enlargement for Russia. Primakov cautioned that the two sides still face many unresolved issues in their negotiations on the agreement. Within that context he also continued to focus on Moscow’s insistence that the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty be amended and that there be no NATO military deployments in new NATO member states. Primakov claimed to have reached an accord earlier with NATO secretary general Javier Solana that "regular NATO troops will not be stationed outside the boundaries" of the current 16 member states. Primakov and Solana are scheduled to hold a fourth round of talks in Moscow on April 15, and the French foreign minister reportedly assured Primakov that Solana intends to bring specific proposals on the troop deployment issue to that meeting. (Itar-Tass, April 8)
Russian Central Banker Supports Monetary Union with Belarus.