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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hopes Rising For START II, U.S. Summit




Kremlin officials voiced hope Tuesday that the Russian parliament would soon ratify the START II nuclear arms reduction treaty to pave the way for a U.S.-Russian summit early next year.


"I remain optimistic about the ratification prospects, and I believe that this treaty can and must be ratified," Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov said at a news conference. "That answers Russia's interests."


U.S. President Bill Clinton, who was expected to come to Moscow early in 1998, said last week that he would prefer to wait until the Russian parliament's lower house, the State Duma, ratifies the treaty. It already has been ratified by the U.S. Senate.


Clinton said he and President Boris Yeltsin agreed it would be better to meet after Russia ratified so they could use their meeting to start work on a START III treaty that would cut nuclear weapons even further.


Yeltsin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky made the same point Tuesday. "It would be preferable for this visit to happen after the platform for further negotiations on START III has been cleared, that is, after START II has been ratified," he said at a Kremlin briefing.


Primakov said Russia will wait for the U.S. side to set the summit date.


Despite Primakov's optimism about the START II treaty, the foreign minister was downbeat about Moscow's attempts overall to build a strategic partnership with Western countries in the aftermath of the breakup of the Soviet Union.


"The slogan of a strategic partnership with our former Cold War foes was initially proclaimed, but it somehow lost its luster with time," Primakov said in a clear reference to the diplomacy of his strongly pro-Western predecessor Andrei Kozyrev. "Such ties started turning into those between patron and client. Russia has not agreed and will not agree to this. Russia favors equal relations between all states, regardless of who is the stronger or the weaker."