Clinton, Yeltsin Meet In Finland (3/20/97)
Albright: NATO Will Expand (3/18/97)
Prepping For Helsinki (3/17/97)
Clinton, Yeltsin Get Down To Business
NATO expansion tops summit agenda
HELSINKI, Finland (AllPolitics, March 21) -- U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin expressed optimism as they sat down for difficult summit talks today.
The two leaders met at a secluded villa, surrounded by pines and overlooking the partly frozen Baltic Sea. It is the official residence of Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, who greeted both men at the door.
When Yeltsin was asked if Clinton's plan to extend NATO membership to former members of the Warsaw Pact represented a threat to Russia, he readily replied, "I'm not convinced otherwise."
Still, the Russian president said: "I think both sides are ready to meet each other and, through compromise, to resolve the problems and disagreements."
Speaking to reporters at the summit venue, Clinton said: "I think we'll have a good meeting." But he was uncharacteristically reserved, and said little more than that.
Yeltsin added that the two men prepared for their difficult talks with their good-humored dinner on Thursday.
"Yesterday, we warmed each other up so that today there won't be such tension at the negotiation," he said.
The Clinton Administration has insisted it will not back away from its plans even in the face of stiff Russian opposition.
Russian officials, including Yeltsin, have warned that NATO expansion at this time would be a major mistake. Russians see it as a potentially destabilizing military buildup on their borders.
Lowering the expectations
Going into the summit Thursday, both sides appeared to be deliberately lowering expectations about the outcome.
"I don't expect them to change their views, and they shouldn't expect us to change our views," said Sandy Berger, the president's national security advisor. "The issue is how we work together in spite of that."
Aboard Air Force One on the flight from Andrews Air Force outside Washington on Thursday, senior administration officials said Clinton would move beyond the NATO question and propose additional arms control agreements, going beyond the START II Treaty.
The officials expressed hope that the Russian parliament would ratify START II this spring, which has already gained approval in the U.S. Senate.
In addition, the officials say the U.S. will propose the beginning of a new round of talks -- START III -- designed to further bring down the number of nuclear warheads to between 2,000 to 2,500 on each side.
Copyright © 1997 AllPolitics All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this information is provided to you.