Clinton, Yeltsin seal partnership U.S. president offers Russian $1.6 billion in aid THE VANCOUVER SUMMIT

April 05, 1993|By Mark Matthews | Mark Matthews,Staff Writer

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Presidents Clinton and Boris N. Yeltsin cemented a partnership yesterday aimed at strengthening the Russian in his struggle to stay in power and keep his nation on a difficult course of economic and political reform.

With his bigger-than-expected $1.6 billion aid package, Mr. Clinton promised to offer Russians visible and tangible proof of the U.S. commitment.

He also vowed to press Congress to approve a further package of aid and investment measures particularly keyed to developing Russia's rich but inefficient energy sector, joint space programs, environmental cooperation and housing.

And he said he would continue pressing the six other major industrialized democracies to join in crafting a vastly larger long-term commitment to subsidize the Russian shift from communism to democracy.

"Mr. President, our nation will not stand on the sidelines when it comes to democracy in Russia," Mr. Clinton said, turning to the nodding Russian leader.

"We know where we stand. . . . We actively support reform and reformers and you in Russia." Mr. Clinton added.

The gestures are aimed at making a clear demonstration to Russians before April 25, when they vote in a nationwide referendum to declare their confidence or lack of it in Mr. Yeltsin, that his way offers the prospect of prosperity and security.

Mr. Yeltsin, with immediate aid in hand and a stronger-than-ever commitment of more in store, left Vancouver yesterday for three weeks of hard campaigning to shore up his weakened political position and gain leverage over his government to make major Western aid possible.

Bidding good-bye, Mr. Clinton pumped Mr. Yeltsin's hand and exhorted: "Win! Win!"

So complete was Mr. Clinton's promise of what he called a "new partnership" that even troublesome problems on their shared foreign-policy agenda were largely glossed over with language sympathetic to the Russian position.

Mr. Yeltsin stuck to his guns on the Baltic republics of Latvia and Estonia, insisting on linking the timing of the withdrawal of Russian troops to the repeal of legislation in those countries that he says allows the persecution of their Russian minorities.

Mr. Clinton also pledged to review, and possibly change, the Navy's practice of patrolling with submarines close to Russian shores, and volunteered his "regret" over a recent collision of U.S. and Russian subs in the Bering Sea.

Mr. Yeltsin said Russia's defense minister would arrive in the United States this summer to discuss military issues.

The two men, while jointly pledging to complete the process of implementing the strategic arms accords requiring deep cuts in each nation's long-range nuclear weapons, apparently reached no agreement on how to persuade Ukraine to ratify START 1 and sign on to the 1970 Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

They stressed their joint aim of ending the bloodshed in the Balkans, but sidestepped the thorny issue of the historic Russian sympathy for the Serbs.

Trade terms

Mr. Clinton also indicated he would try to abolish restrictions on favorable trade terms for Russia that link trade to regular progress in Jewish emigration, and to ease restrictions on U.S. high-technology investment in Russia.

In both cases, Mr. Yeltsin stressed that laws aimed at the now-defunct Soviet Communist regime should no longer apply. Mr. Clinton pledged to review all such Cold War legislation with the aim of abolishing outdated statutes.

In one concession on an old sore spot, Mr. Yeltsin said Russia was finalizing a timetable for Russian military withdrawal from Cuba.

The two-day summit here was the first between a U.S. and Russian leader in decades that has not been dominated by Cold War anxieties.

And the U.S. president, opening a news conference at the end of the meeting, noted that it was the first summit geared to bolstering Russian reform in general and Mr. Yeltsin as its embodiment. He compared Russia's struggle for democracy and support for it to a river that will flow continuously.

"We bellow our support," he said, as the river carries both peoples forward.

Mr. Clinton and Mr. Yeltsin both left here yesterday evening, the U.S. president heading for Washington and Mr. Yeltsin back to Russia. They each have some campaigning to do.

Their agreed-upon strategy to turn that support into Russian votes backing Mr. Yeltsin starts with the U.S. aid package.

Heavy on projects that can provide an early and visible example of Western support, it will help house and retrain homeless Russian soldiers; develop Russia's inefficient energy sector; provide new grain credits on easy repayment terms; dispatch numerous organizations to help Russians develop enduring democratic institutions; and spend $215 million to dismantle Russian nuclear weapons and put their dangerous fuel under control. The two countries will also work jointly on space technology.

Spurring private investment

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