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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian, U.S. Leaders Prepare For G-7 Talks in Birmingham




U.S. and Russian officials met Thursday to complete preparations for a meeting between presidents Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton during next week's summit of the Group of Seven leading industrial nations in Britain.


A Foreign Ministry spokesman said U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott held talks with First Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov but gave no details.


National Security Adviser Sandy Berger had talks scheduled with Security Council Secretary Andrei Kokoshin and with Defense Ministry officials. Russian officials declined to say whether those meetings had begun.


"Normal diplomatic work is under way to prepare an important meeting between the leaders of our two countries," Foreign Ministry spokesman Valery Nesterushkin said at a news briefing.


"The main themes are the traditional matters in Russian-U.S. dialogue. They include cooperation in preventing the arms race, nonproliferation and all the political issues that could be discussed at the Birmingham summit and a separate meeting between the Russian and U.S. presidents."


The summit of eight industrial powers from May 15 to 17 brings together the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.


The timing of the separate Clinton-Yeltsin meeting, which is not a formal summit, has not been announced.


The last Russian-U.S. summit was held in Helsinki in March of last year and no date has been set for the next one, despite pledges by the two leaders to hold annual summits. Clinton has not been to Russia for more than two years.


Clinton and Yeltsin have a good personal rapport but Russian-U.S. relations have cooled since a honeymoon period after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.


Differences have been clear over Iraq, Kosovo and NATO's plans to expand into eastern Europe. Washington fears sales of Russian technology may be helping Iran develop a nuclear arsenal, a charge that Moscow denies.


The two presidents have been careful to play down the differences in public to prevent any further damage to ties, but they could discuss these matters in Birmingham.


Another sticking point is the failure of Russia's State Duma, the lower house of parliament, to ratify the START II treaty. The White House hopes the Duma will ratify the 1993 treaty, which has already been approved by the U.S. Senate, before the next summit but has not made it a formal condition.