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Albright: NATO Will Expand

Russia's opposition could complicate nuclear disarmament, though


WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, March 18) -- Though Russia's Foreign Minister vowed Monday to oppose NATO expansion, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told reporters today that U.S. plans to bring new nations into the alliance "will remain on track."

Albright continued negotiations with Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov after the Russian official's meeting with President Bill Clinton yielded no progress on the thorny issue, which could complicate the president's meeting with Russian President Boris Yeltsin this Friday in Helsinki, Finland.

The president today expressed optimism the two leaders can "talk about our shared desire for a Europe that is free and democratic, secure and united and my hope that we can achieve an agreement between Russia and NATO that will be part of that."

Also on the agenda, the president said would be the START II weapons treaty and "a lot of economic issues that have to be dealt with."

Albright, reasserting the Clinton Administration's intention to bring central and eastern European countries on Russia's flank into NATO, said, "We know it will take time for the process of trust to catch up with the process of change."


Similar statements have so far fallen on deaf Russian ears: "Russia will not change its position on NATO," Primakov stiffly told reporters before heading home. In Moscow, Yeltsin echoed, "We can't move any further."

Appearing with Albright, National Security Advisor Sandy Berger contended Clinton and Yeltsin are poised to make strides in reducing nuclear weapons arsenals, though he did not address the uncertainty Russia's parliament will agree.

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