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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin to Take 'Tough' Stand at G-7 Summit

President Boris Yeltsin will not go cap-in-hand to the Group of Seven summit meeting in Tokyo this week but will take along a list of demands including an end to Cold-War measures that limit Moscow's trade with the rest of the world, a top government official said Monday.


Boris Fyodorov, who is both a deputy prime minister and finance minister in Yeltsin's government, told journalists that the president would take a "tough" stand at the meeting of the seven leading industrial nations on lifting trade restrictions, especially on high-technology exports that Moscow regards as discriminatory.


"Much will depend on the G-7's position on access to markets for Russian exports", Fyodorov responded to a question on what he thought would constitute success for Russia at the summit. "We are still suffering discrimination".


The leaders of the United States, Germany, Japan, Britain, Italy, France and Canada are expected to discuss a proposed $43 billion aid package for Russia when they convene in Tokyo for talks Wednesday through Friday.


Yeltsin, who leaves Moscow late Wednesday night and arrives in Japan on Thursday, is scheduled to attend the final day of the summit on Friday and to hold talks with President Bill Clinton of the United States on Saturday, according to his press office. Yeltsin is also scheduled to hold talks with Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa of Japan.


Yeltsin's trip to Japan marks a breakthrough in bilateral relations, which have bogged down in the past year over the disputed Kuril Islands in the North Pacific.


The Russian president canceled two previous visits to Tokyo, reportedly infuriating the Japanese.


Fyodorov said Monday that Russian officials were "pleased" with a Japanese promise not to let the territorial dispute disrupt the work of the summit, and that Russian-Japanese negotiations on these political questions would be kept separate from talks on economic issues.


Fyodorov played down the significance for Russia of the proposed $43 billion package, $15 billion of which is accounted for by debts that Western governments have agreed to restructure. Another large part of the aid consists of credits to buy specified Western goods, which Fyodorov called "aid for Western exporters selling goods to Russia".


Far more important, he said, was the first $1. 5 billion of a special fund released June 30 by the International Monetary Fund to help cushion Russia's economy from the spending cuts that will be needed to reduce inflation.


He also said he hoped the summit would approve a fund to help restructure the more than 2, 000 privatized Russian companies. Clinton had originally backed a $4 billion privatization fund, but Hans Kohler, a German representative to the G-7, on Sunday suggested that amount be cut to $2 billion.


"If this fund materializes", Fyodorov said, "it will be a sign that the seven are ready for decisive action".


But two features of this year's summit could prevent the G-7 from taking decisive action. One is that several of the leaders are in a weak domestic position. Miyazawa, for example, is facing corruption charges and national elections five days after the summit ends. The other is that the G-7 is still cautious of Russia's political and economic instability and of what one Western diplomat in Moscow called "a system that is still basically at the beginning, the most daunting stage" of the transformation to a market economy.


Despite that caution, Yeltsin will be able to show G-7 leaders some concrete results of his government's reforms. Subsidies to bolster inefficient industries have been drastically cut, the ruble has been stable against the dollar for three weeks, and the monthly inflation rate has fallen to below 20 percent from near-hyperinflationary levels earlier in the year.


Yeltsin will be regarded as an equal partner at one of two meetings scheduled with G-7 leaders that will discuss world political issues. Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev told RIA news agency on Monday that this was a positive sign, adding that "politically, this group has already become the G-8".