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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Governor's Remarks Cloud Chinese Border Talks

COMBINED REPORTS


President Boris Yeltsin, due to visit Beijing later this month, strongly denied Thursday a statement by an influential regional governor that he had suspended demarcation of the border with China.


Yevgeny Nazdratenko, governor of the Primorsky region in the Far East, told local radio in Vladivostok earlier Thursday that Yeltsin had halted work on defining the frontier.


"To the contrary, I have signed a decree aimed at speeding up the demarcation of the border line with China because I go there on an official visit on April 24," Yeltsin later said during a visit just outside Moscow.


Yeltsin seemed indignant over Nazdratenko's remarks, which could mar the highly publicized visit. "Well, it happens to Nazdratenko," he said. "I do not know to what it is linked, I think we will have to ask the doctors. I do not understand it, let him explain himself."


The Kremlin has viewed completing the demarcation of the 4,300-kilometer border with China as an important part of expanding ties with its communist neighbor. Yeltsin underlined its importance in a his state-of-the-nation address.


But officials in the Primorsky region have strongly opposed the demarcation plan which provides for giving up minor territories in the area to China.


Nazdratenko, who spearheaded the opposition to ceding land to Beijing, said Thursday the issue would be discussed during the president's visit. "We have told the president what we may lose there," he said. Yeltsin "saw all these losses -- things had been presented to him in a different light -- and ordered a halt to all demarcation works."


Nazdratenko said he would accompany Yeltsin on his trip to China April 24 to 26 and would take part in the talks.


The disputed plots to be given to China cover just 14 square kilometers, much of it swamp land. But in the Far East -- where the population of 6.28 million is smaller than Moscow's, and dwindling -- letting densely populated China move in, even a little bit, is emotionally explosive. Last week, Major General Valery Rozov, head of the Russian demarcation group for the eastern section of the border, resigned in protest over the decision to give China the disputed plots. ()