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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Clinton Agrees to Come to Russia




WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Bill Clinton has agreed to meet President Boris Yeltsin in September, the White House said Monday, despite a lack of progress by the Russian parliament toward ratifying the START II disarmament treaty.


The White House said Clinton had accepted an invitation from Yeltsin to meet in Russia in early September, confirming an earlier announcement from the Kremlin.


"The president underscored the vitality of the U.S.-Russian relationship and looks forward to engaging President Yeltsin on a broad range of issues," the White House said in a statement.


The White House said Vice President Al Gore would meet Russian Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko in Moscow on July 23 and 24, and the two would help prepare the summit agenda. A U.S. official, asked about the agenda for the summit, said: "Obviously they meet on a regular basis to discuss topics of mutual concern."


He said he was not certain what role the START II treaty, now stalled in the Russian parliament, would play in the summit or whether there was any indication it would be ratified ahead of Clinton's visit.


Clinton has said he would like to see the treaty ratified before the next summit so the leaders can launch negotiations on further nuclear weapons cuts in a new START III treaty.


The U.S. Senate has ratified the 1993 treaty, which would cut U.S. and Russian-deployed nuclear warheads from about 6,000 each to no more than 3,500 each.


Yeltsin and his government have lobbied for the treaty in Russia, but the opposition-dominated State Duma, the lower house of parliament, has resisted ratification.


Some deputies have expressed annoyance at the linkage between ratification and a U.S.-Russia summit, saying Washington was trying to bully its once-formidable Cold War foe. The announcement of the Russian trip, which would be Clinton's fifth foreign trip this year, comes just two days after his return from a nine-day visit to China.


Relations between Washington and Moscow are much warmer than in the days of the Soviet Union, but tensions remain, especially over the role of NATO, conflicts in the Balkans and armaments issues in the Middle East.


The loss of superpower status in 1991 still rankles in Moscow, which fiercely objects to NATO's planned expansion into Central Europe.


Russia tacitly accepted NATO's move to start admission talks with Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic last year and signed a confidence-building treaty with the military alliance. But it is resolutely opposed to membership for any ex-Soviet republics.


Moscow, a traditional ally of both Serbia and Iraq, is also at odds with the United States over international policy toward the two countries, arguing against any use of force.


The U.S. threatened air strikes against Iraq earlier this year in a dispute over United Nations weapons inspections and has called for force to be used against Belgrade if it does not stop a crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists in its Kosovo region.


But in the latest sign of attempts to present a united U.S.-Russian front, delegates from the two countries toured the regional capital of Kosovo, Pristina, on Sunday.