U.S. to give more aid to Russia, officials say

April 14, 1993|By New York Times News Service

TOKYO -- President Clinton has told Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa that U.S. contributions to Russia would increase by at least $2 billion, Japanese and U.S. officials here said today. The figure would more than double the original $1.6 billion Mr. Clinton had pledged to Russia originally.

In the conversation, which took place yesterday on the eve of a conference in Tokyo on Russian aid, Mr. Miyazawa reportedly said that Japan had decided to offer $1.8 billion in direct bilateral financial assistance to support Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin's programs for democratic change.

The pledges, which are expected to be announced officially in Tokyo later today at a meeting of the seven richest industrialized nations, should ensure that the aid package U.S. officials had sought for Russia will reach $30 billion.

At a news conference earlier today, Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen indicated that the telephone call had taken place, but that he and other officials remained deliberatedly vague as to the aid total. He did say that Japanese press reports about U.S. assistance to Russia growing by $2.5 billion were incorrect.

Other U.S. officials, who insisted on anonymity, said Mr. Clinton would offer about $2 billion in trade credits from the Export-Import Bank as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in additional assistance. The details of the package are not firm, and Mr. Clinton said in the conversation that he must consult with Congressional leaders before settling the terms of the assistance, the officials in Tokyo said.

In Washington, a White House spokeswoman, Lorraine Voles, said that Mr. Clinton spoke by telephone to Mr. Miyazawa about "the need for substantial support for Russian reform," but she declined to provide any details or to say whether the president has decided to increase the amount of aid.

The original $1.6 billion pledged at the recent summit meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, was to include $700 million in agricultural credits, $690.9 million in grants and $232 million in other credits.

Mr. Bentsen said at a news conference yesterday that he was more optimistic this year than last year that large amounts of aid would be pledged and disbursed to push Russia further on the road to a capitalist economy.

He said that, if the Russian central bank carries through on a recent pledge to reduce soaring inflation, the prospects for the aid from the United States, Japan and the other industrial nations would brighten.

The comments set a positive tone for a gathering that has already established an agenda and style far different from what prevailed in such meetings during the Cold War era. The meeting includes the foreign and finance ministers of the so-called Group of Seven countries, the United States, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Canada.

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