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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Summit's End: Missile Cuts, Trade and Humor

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Bill Clinton and President Boris Yeltsin agreed Wednesday to speed up the dismantling of both nations' nuclear arsenals. "We will make the world safer for all of us," Clinton declared.

The two leaders also signed agreements pledging closer economic and security cooperation. "Relations between our nations are moving forward at full speed," Clinton said at a joint news conference near the end of their two-day meeting.

Clinton said that he and Yeltsin had agreed to speed up the timetable of the START II agreement reached in 1993, which calls for reducing long-range nuclear warheads to 3,000-3,500 by the year 2003.

Clinton said that the two countries would begin to dismantle the warheads as soon as that agreement is ratified "instead of taking the nine years allowed."

For his part, Yeltsin said that his meetings with Clinton had been straightforward. "We started from the word go, right from the beginning," he said. "We've really done a tremendous amount of work."

He portrayed U.S.-Russian relations as those of a loving, but sometimes squabbling, family.

Sitting side by side at an ornate table in the White House East Room, the two presidents signed several agreements, including a "Partnership for Economic Progress" statement pledging closer economic ties.

Then they rose, shook hands and patted each other on the back.

It was their fifth meeting since Clinton took office 20 months ago, but the first in Washington.

Turning to one thorn in the side of relations between Moscow and Washington, Clinton said "We've made progress on the difficult issue of Russian arms sales in Iran" and agreed to work closer in the future. Clinton has tried to persuade Yeltsin to halt weapons sales to Iran amounting to $1 billion last year. Russia has sold submarines, tanks and air-launched missiles to the Iranian government.

Yeltsin was expansive and played games with his translator, who had trouble keeping up with him. Noticing that, the Russian president stretched out his words with exaggeration, a sly grin on his face. His audience broke into laughter and even Clinton had trouble keeping a straight face.

Yeltsin praised Clinton for initiating steps for the United States to relax its trade restrictions linked to the emigration of Jews. He called it "a huge window, a bright window that appeared between us."

Earlier Wednesday, Clinton and Yeltsin toured a Library of Congress exhibit that highlights the early influence of the Russian church on Alaska.

"As we remember the ties between Russia and America of two centuries ago, let us welcome our new ties and new spirit of cooperation in the century of partnership that lies ahead," Clinton said.

In a booming voice, Yeltsin countered critics in his country who he said believe "an era of confrontation will return" between the United States and Russia. "I would like to tell you that we never fought the United States and I believe I can say as president of Russia that we will never fight the United States in the future.

"Instead, we will focus on building a world of decency and welfare," he said, drawing loud applause.

The war in Bosnia is one example of the growing coordination between the Clinton administration, which is pledged to lifting an arms embargo on the Moslem-led government, and Russia, which has historic ties to the Serbs.

Secretary of State Warren Christopher said the United States would ask the UN Security Council around Nov. 1 to lift the embargo. And he said Russia would try to persuade Serbia to recognize Bosnia.

Christopher said Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic came to him last Friday and suggested a six-month delay in the flow of arms.

In the interim, Christopher said, the United States hoped Bosnian Serbs would reverse their rejection of a peace plan to end the 2 1/2-year war in the former Yugoslav republic.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Georgy Karasin, briefing reporters separately, said Christopher, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev and the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany would meet in New York to work on a settlement. "The situation is more favorable for positive approaches," Karasin said.

The NATO foreign ministers are billed to meet Thursday in New York.

The summit, the third full-dress meeting and fifth overall in 20 months, was scripted to emphasize and accelerate Russia's conversion from communism to capitalism.

The administration pledged $525 million in financing and political risk insurance for investments in Russia, leading Commerce Secretary Ron Brown to say the meeting "can truly be called the trade and investment summit."

Additional agreements this week are expected to boost the investment total to $1 billion.