U.S., Russia fail to resolve NATO expansion questions
February 21, 1997
Web posted at: 11:00 a.m. EST (1600 GMT)
MOSCOW (CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
on Friday tried to assure Russia that "We are all on the same side," but Moscow remained wary of NATO plans to expand eastward.
"The new NATO is not the NATO of the Cold War, " she said. "It is no longer us versus you or you versus us. We are on the same side."
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Albright's comments came in a joint news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov after two days of talks.
She emphasized that the United States and Russia had made
progress on a European security deal, but that problems remained.
"The issues are complex and will require a lot of work,"
Albright said, referring to a charter defining post-Cold War
ties between NATO and Russia.
Russia remains opposed to expansion
Primakov said Russia remained firmly opposed to NATO expansion, but he emphasized that Russia was willing
to "minimize the complications that may arise if expansion
Moscow has warned NATO that granting membership to former
Soviet allies could upset the European security balance.
Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic are the leading
candidates for a formal NATO invitation, which is to take
place at a 16-nation summit in Madrid in July.
Since NATO made clear it would not change its plans,
Russia has concentrated on negotiating a deal which would
guarantee its security interests. But many sticking points
Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky said the charter between Moscow and NATO should be legally binding.
"It's really important to us that the document be binding
(and) clearly define the responsibilities of each side,"
Albright said Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin would provide
their personal assurances on the charter and that American
and Russian officials would get to work on the details.
Clinton and Yeltsin are to meet in Helsinki, Finland, on
Albright meets Yeltsin
Albright also met with Russian President Boris Yeltsin in
talks aimed at dispelling Russian fears of NATO expansion.
The Russian leader appeared gaunt and extremely weak, but
Albright described him as being "at the top of his game."
"He was very sharp in terms of what he wanted to achieve,"
she said. "I would say he is completely in control."
Albright, on her first overseas trip since becoming America's
top diplomat last month, was the first Western official to
meet Yeltsin in Moscow since he had heart surgery last
November and fell ill with pneumonia in January.
Yeltsin welcomed her to the Kremlin but cautioned, "There are certain problems that exist between us."
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