Yeltsin invites himself to G-7 summit a day early Russia only one item on crowded agenda

July 07, 1992|By Carl Schoettler | Carl Schoettler,Staff Writer

MUNICH, Germany -- Boris N. Yeltsin has more or less invited himself to the Group of Seven economic summit a day early. He wants to join the club, but he'll get a mixed reception.

"He comes as the bankrupt debtor at a party of his creditors," snarled one ancient observer of European politics.

On the other hand, Dieter Vogel, the official German government spokesman, said, "I don't find anything unusual about him coming a day early.

"The G-7 leaders are a group of gentlemen, of course," he said. "They'll invite him to dinner. If someone comes a day early, he gets something to eat."

The Group of Seven are the seven richest industrial nations: the United States, Germany, Japan, Great Britain, France, Canada and Italy. The head of the European Community Commission also takes part.

It's the quintessential rich old boys' club -- this year in the German fashion.

German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the host, greeted each of the G-7 leaders with considerable Germanic pomp and Bavarian circumstance, including lots of people in dirndls and lederhosen.

Munich is the capital of Bavaria, and the G-7 leaders are meeting in the palaces of the old Bavarian princes.

The German chancellor had breakfast with President Bush, as a kind of first among equals. Then all the leaders and their foreign affairs, economics and finance ministers met for lunch.

The first official sessions of the summit began in midafternoon, and discussions continued during dinner in a banquet hall of rococo magnificence in the Nymphenburg Palace.

The Seven are trying to find consensus on world economic problems, global trade and tariffs, the war in what used to be Yugoslavia, the environment and the transformation of East European nations and the former Soviet socialist republics to free market economies.

Mr. Vogel, reporting on the afternoon meeting, said that there seemed to be considerable agreement on the difficult question of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which remains stymied by a disagreement between the United States and the European Community over agricultural subsidies.

"It is my impression that there are no differences between G-7 members on the necessity for a rapid conclusion to this round," Mr. Vogel said.

A GATT agreement is seen as essential to improving the stagnant world economy. Spokesmen for almost every delegation reported virtual unanimity on the need for stimulating economic growth. Growth with stability is the way to go, they say. Restraint in governmental spending was praised in Germany, Britain and especially Italy.

Mr. Yeltsin comes to this affair from a mini-summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States in Moscow, where he was able to tell the former republics of the Soviet Union that he had made a relatively easy deal for an advance of a billion dollars from the International Monetary Fund.

Once he had stormed about IMF restrictions and conditions, saying that Russia was still a great power and that he would bow to no one for the money.

hTC Even Mr. Kohl, whose country has lent Russia more money than any other, found Mr. Yeltsin's tirade a bit much.

"I disapprove of such announcements," he told a television interviewer a little sniffily.

Mr. Yeltsin will find here that the remaining $23 billion promised by the G-7 nations will come only with many more and much tighter strings attached. Moreover, the Russian leader may not be able to get deferment on payment of the $63 billion debt of the former Soviet Union.

Japan, which is engaged in a territorial dispute with Russia over islands seized by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II, is also his chief opponent here.

"This is a touchstone of Russia sincerity," said a Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman. "This is a test of whether they are going to abide by international law and justice."

The Japanese claimed that they are contributing $2.7 billion to the $24 billion that Russia will eventually get. And it is believed here that the Japanese will go along like good club members with whatever the other six decide on debt deferment.

At this summit, with all the countries basically absorbed in their own economic problems, the Japanese seemed to express pretty well the G-7 attitude on financial help for the outsiders.

The Japanese spokesman said economic assistance to developing countries would be "touched on."

But he warned of the "moral hazard" involved in being too generous to debtor nations. It might discourage countries that don't run up debts, he said.

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