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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S., Russia Map Out Final Summit Plans

President Boris Yeltsin met Tuesday with his foreign minister, Yevgeny Primakov, making final preparations for this week's U.S.-Russian summit in Helsinki, where NATO is expected to occupy center stage.

Primakov came fresh from a meeting in Washington with U.S. President Bill Clinton, at which the two discussed NATO's plans to expand its membership to include some states of Eastern Europe.

Negotiations in the buildup to the Helsinki summit have been shrouded in secrecy, and the Kremlin was giving little away after the foreign minister's meeting with Yeltsin.

"There are difficulties, but Russia and the United States will try together to overcome them," Interfax quoted the presidential press service as saying in a statement released after the meeting.

"Both sides have presented draft documents and will continue their work on them," the statement said, adding that Yeltsin had issued instructions "which will guide the ongoing work on the documents."

The meeting, which lasted for one hour, took place at the president's residence at Gorky-9, west of Moscow.

While in Washington, Primakov also held closed-door talks with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Secretary of Defense William Cohen.

At a press briefing Tuesday, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry would not disclose details of those talks. But he said Primakov has repeated Moscow's opposition to NATO expansion and insisted Russia's security concerns are taken into account.

The Russian foreign minister and his counterparts also discussed the conditions for ratification of the START II nuclear arms reduction treaty and U.S.-Russian economic cooperation, the spokesman said.

Analysts predict that NATO and Russia will reach a compromise agreement on the thorny issue of troop deployment on the territory of new member states, but not in time for the Helsinki summit.

The Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary are expected to be named among the first former Soviet-bloc countries to be invited to join NATO at a July summit of the alliance in Madrid.

In the Czech capital, Prague, politicians reacted with fury to Russian threats that trade will suffer if the Czech republic joins NATO.

In an interview with Russia's NTV television Sunday, Moscow's ambassador to Prague, Nikolai Ryabov, said the Czech Republic's membership in the Western alliance could put in doubt the supply of natural gas and nuclear fuel from Russia.

Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus responded angrily. "I can't believe that this is the official Russian position and trust it will turn out to be the ambassador's personal position," The Associated Press quoted Klaus as saying. "But if not, it would only strengthen our resolve to join NATO."