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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin changes course as summit nears

The Yeltsin government has announced that it will delay freeing oil prices until the end of 1992 at the earliest, signaling a sharp turn from its previous course of radical economic reform.

The move, made as President Boris Yeltsin is preparing to leave for a summit with U. S. President George Bush, was certain to worry officials in Washington and the International Monetary Fund, which has made freeing oil prices a key condition for Russia and the former Soviet republics to receive a $24 billion aid package to ease the transition to a market economy.

Yeltsin is scheduled to arrive in Washington on June 15. He will spend three days with Bush and address a joint session of the U. S. Congress before leaving for Canada, with a short stop in Kansas.

In an interview with Izvestia and Russian television on Thursday, Yeltsin indicated that he would seek understanding from Americans about Russia's dire economic plight rather than ask for further aid.

"I'm not going to the U. S. with an outstretched hand", he said.

If Yeltsin had followed guidelines set by the IMF and. freed all prices, including oil, in April, he said, "there would have been a crash".

Yeltsin denied that he was backing off from his earlier program of radical economic reform and reiterated his support for Yegor Gaidar, the architect of the government's radical economic reform program.

"Unpopular measures have from the beginning been envisaged in the reforms and they will continue", he said.

U. S. Secretary of State James Baker III and Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev will meet in London on Friday after failing to reach an agreement on deep cuts in strategic nuclear arms during talks in Washington earlier this week.

The two hope to carve a deal for reductions in long-range nuclear missiles, bombers and submarines before Bush and Yeltsin meet in Washington on Tuesday.

Baker and Kozyrev aim to make cuts below the levels called for in the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, signed last year. They hoped to carve out an agreement to cut strategic nuclear weapons by up to 50 percent below current levels by the end of the century, according to The Associated Press.

In a meeting with his top military commanders on Wednesday, Yeltsin criticized the U. S. arms reduction proposal which Baker and Kozyrev discussed this week, saying that it gave the Americans an advantage by calling for Russia to dismantle all its land-based multiple warhead missiles while the United States made slimmer cuts in its sea-based forces, The Associated Press reported.

For Yeltsin, the upcoming trip to the United States represents a new round in a battle with his long-time political rival and predecessor, Mikhail-Gorbachev. The former Soviet president, whowas warmly received when he made a private visit to the United States in early May, presents a threat to Yeltsin, who is less popular among Americans. The feud between the two has escalated in the past two weeks, after Gorbachev publicly criticized the Yeltsin government in an interview with the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda.