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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin Likely to Sign NATO Charter

President Boris Yeltsin will likely sign a charter with NATO at a May meeting in Paris, Russian news agencies said, citing unidentified Kremlin sources.


The reports over the weekend did not provide details of the Paris meeting or the proposed charter, saying only that its terms were settled at the Helsinki summit between Yeltsin and U.S. President Bill Clinton.


Ekho Moskvy radio quoted sources close to the Kremlin as saying the meeting date would "probably be around May 5."


The object of an accord would be to overcome Moscow's fears that its security would be threatened by the entry of former Warsaw Pact countries into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.


On Monday, Interfax quoted Yeltsin's chief spokesman, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, as denying reports that Yeltsin would attend a NATO summit July 8 and 9 in Madrid, where invitations to new members are expected to be issued.


He did not deny the possibility of a May summit, but he suggested that it could take longer to work out a final Russia-NATO accord.


"It would be preferable to have such a treaty agreed on before the Madrid summit of NATO," Interfax quoted Yastrzhembsky as saying. On the other hand, he added, "the magnitude of the issue is such that its discussion could continue well after Madrid."


The Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary are expected to be the first states to receive invitations to join NATO, though their membership would probably not become official before 1999.


Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov and NATO Secretary General Javier Solana are reportedly working on details of a charter. According to unofficial reports, the two men are to meet in Moscow on April 15.


Primakov said during the weekend that Russia hopes the planned charter will largely neutralize the negative effects of the alliance's enlargement for Moscow.


In Bonn to brief his German counterpart Klaus Kinkel on the results of the Helsinki summit, Primakov reiterated Moscow's often-stated position that NATO's admission of Eastern European countries would be a mistake, but repeatedly declined to dwell on the negative consequences.


He told a news conference that Moscow had to be realistic and could assert its security interests through the NATO-Russia charter.


"If we succeed in signing a document of substance that defines our relationship with NATO, we will try to neutralize to the maximum extent, to the maximum possible, the consequences of NATO enlargement for our relations with the West," he said.


Primakov struck an upbeat tone despite criticism at home, particularly from the communist-dominated parliament, that Russia had sold out vital security interests at the Helsinki summit.


Primakov said it was "very important" for Russia that Clinton had reiterated to Yeltsin that NATO had no plans to deploy troops in Eastern Europe.


But he said intensive work still had to be done on the charter to counter Russian concerns "that NATO infrastructure will roll toward our borders."


(AP, AFP, Reuters, MT)