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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Phone Hitches Stall Presidents' Talks on Bosnia

To hear their aides tell it, the leaders of the world's two most powerful nations sat by their telephones like anxious lovers for an hour and a half Thursday.


In Washington and Moscow, aides to the presidents were at a loss to explain Friday how Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton had failed for two days to make telephone contact and discuss Bosnia.


Finally, at 5:15 P.M. Moscow time Friday, their switchboards were united and the two presidents spoke for over 30 minutes, according to Yeltsin's press secretary, Anatoly Krasikov.


Yeltsin told Clinton that the U.N. Security Council should act to solve the Bosnian crisis, Reuters reported, quoting a Kremlin statement.


"The solutions to all questions concerning the situation in Bosnia, particularly around Sarajevo, should be undertaken only by the U.N. Security Council," Yeltsin said, according to the statement. The statement also said Yeltsin and Clinton had a similar attitude toward solving the Bosnian conflict.


But on Thursday evening, the extraordinary failure to connect had threatened to cause something of a diplomatic embarrassment.


The phone call had been planned first for Wednesday and then again for Thursday. But, White House Officials said, Clinton had tried and failed to get through on both occasions. The White House blamed "technical difficulties."


Viktor Ilyushin, Yeltsin's top aide, told Interfax that Yeltsin had waited by the telephone for Clinton's call for an hour and a half on Thursday.


"We understood that we had a fixed time and a fixed place," Krasikov said. "We were expecting a call from Washington. There were no technical complications on our side."


"That's not our view of how things transpired," White House press secretary Dee-Dee Myers responded, according to the Associated Press.


On Friday, it was Clinton who broke the ice, getting a line through to the Kremlin -- and Yeltsin was waiting.


The two days of silence raised doubt as to why the two leaders did not talk on the famous "hot-line," installed between the Kremlin and the White House after the Cuban Missiles Crisis in 1962.


Myers said that the hot-line was actually a data system for sending written messages and was meant to be used only in emergencies, Reuters reported.