Albright touts Russian prime minister's role
January 26, 1997
Web posted at: 2:01 p.m. EST (1901 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright emphasized the importance of Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin in U.S.-Russian relations, signaling Sunday that
the United States' relationship with Russia was based on more
than what happens to ailing President Boris Yeltsin.
Albright referred to "the Yeltsin-Chernomyrdin government"
while a guest on NBC's "Meet the Press" and again later when
answering a reporter's question about Yeltsin's health.
"We clearly want to wish President Yeltsin a full and speedy
recovery and will continue to respect him as the
democratically elected president of Russia, but it is the
Yeltsin-Chernomyrdin government that goes on, and we have
dealings with them," Albright told reporters.
Albright said meetings next month between Vice President Gore
and Chernomyrdin were "going to be very important."
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"We're getting ready for the Gore-Chernomyrdin meeting here
in early February, and it is important to us that the
government of the Russian Federation continue on the track of
pursuing democratic principles and a market economy," she
On "Meet the Press," Albright said that what happens with
Yeltsin is not all that determines the U.S. relationship with
"It's important that people understand that our relationships
with Russia are based on where they are going, other people
in the government and the possibility that we will be able to
work better and better together," she said.
Albright said plans for a March summit in the United States
between Yeltsin and President Clinton were still on track,
although many decisions have not been made.
Albright would not comment on internal political threats to
Yeltsin, saying only that the country needs to continue
moving toward market reforms in a democratic manner.
The newly appointed secretary of state also said that NATO
expansion into formerly Soviet bloc countries was intended to
create stability and was not anti-Russian. Russia has opposed
such expansion, but it is supported by the United States.
"There is a mutual understanding that we have to work this
out and that U.S.-Russian relations are very important to
both countries," Albright said.
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