Yeltsin takes his place among leaders of G-7

July 11, 1994|By Paul West | Paul West,Sun Staff Correspondent

NAPLES, Italy -- Formally joining the world's leading democracies for the first time, Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin vowed yesterday to work for peace in Bosnia by pressuring the Serbs, his nation's traditional allies.

Clearly the center of attention, Mr. Yeltsin shared a conference table at a bayside palace with the leaders of the Group of Seven nations and stole the show from President Clinton with a lively session with reporters after meeting with him.

Mr. Yeltsin's appearance came on the last day of the G-7 summit, which shifted from economic issues to political problems and produced a four-page statement of principles. The leaders:

* Urged North Korea to go ahead with its scheduled July 26 summit with South Korea and to "remove, once and for all, the suspicions surrounding its nuclear program;"

* Supported Mr. Clinton's Haiti policy, demanding that the Haitian military dictators leave and that democracy be restored;

* And called on the Arab League to end its boycott of Israel and on Iran to cease its sponsorship of terrorism. For the first time, Russia joined the West in making those demands.

The summit leaders also warned the warring parties in Bosnia that they must agree to a peace ultimatum announced last week in Geneva or face the possible lifting of the arms embargo on Bosnia's Muslim-led government.

The Clinton administration is hoping that Russia will lean on its traditional Serbian allies to accept the latest formula for peace, which would require the Serbs to give up one-third of the 70 percent of Bosnian territory that they control.

Mr. Yeltsin told reporters that his country, "and I personally, very decisively" would act "with as much character as we have in our bodies" to see that the agreement is accepted.

Bosnian officials have agreed to accept the peace plan, and their parliament will meet to ratify it on July 18. Bosnian Serbs have strongly criticized the partition plan but, under pressure from their supporters in Serbia proper, say they will study it.

Summit leaders warned that "if the opportunity is not seized, there is a grave risk of renewal of war on a larger scale."

Mr. Clinton hailed the "remarkable" degree of agreement among the eight nations on the broad goals of supporting democracy, free markets and forging new security relationships.

Yeltsin in spotlight

But the Russian president stole the show at a joint news conference with Mr. Clinton after their fourth meeting, a 90-minute session.

In his remarks to reporters, Mr. Yeltsin referred several times to Mr. Clinton as "Bill," a departure from the traditional formalities of diplomacy and politics. Seizing his moment in the international media spotlight, Mr. Yeltsin delivered a lively description of what it's like to sit down with the U.S. president.

"We don't have a lot of philosophizing there now," he said. "We getin and start discussing about 30, 35 different issues, at least, on one side, on the other side."

Mr. Yeltsin was careful to point out that Russia did not come to Naples asking for another handout from the wealthy democracies. But he griped that Russia had only gotten half of the $43 billion pledged to it at least year's summit in Tokyo. (U.S officials say the figure is closer to two-thirds).

And he delivered a colorful plea for the lowering of trade barriers to Russian goods, as he urged the G-7 -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States -- to change their thinking about Russia's place in the world.

"We're not asking for any preferential conditions; we're not asking for special circumstances for us alone. No, we're saying, 'Let's give us equal rights. Get rid, finally, once and for all, of this red jacket.'

"Take that red jacket from the president of Russia -- which I don't wear now for three years," Mr. Yeltsin said from the stage of the ornate Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace). "I've taken that red besmirched jacket off of myself."

Mr. Clinton and Mr. Yeltsin also discussed the problem of Russian troop withdrawals from the Baltic republic of Estonia. Mr. Clinton, who last week became the first U.S. president to visit the Baltics, said that he believes that an agreement can be reached that would allow the troops to leave by the end of August.

Mr. Yeltsin said he had "promised Bill" that he would meet with Estonia's president in an effort to break the impasse, and a senior U.S. official said that later it would "certainly be a lot better if [Mr. Yeltsin] arrived in Washington with all troops out" of the Baltics.

'Political Eight'

Yesterday's meeting marked the first time that Russia joined as a full partner in the G-7 political talks, which now becomes the Group of Eight for political purposes, or Political Eight, as Mr. Yeltsin termed it.

But because Russia's economy is not fully developed, it has not yet been admitted to the G-7 that met here Friday and Saturday, and Mr. Yeltsin said he would not push for that to happen immediately.

"The Russian bear is not going to try to break his way through an open door, and we are not going to force ourselves into the full G-8 until it is deserved," he said.

After his meeting with Mr. Yeltsin, Mr. Clinton toured the nearby ruins of Pompeii, the ancient Roman village that was preserved intact beneath a layer of volcanic ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in the year 79.

The president flew last night to Germany, where he will conclude his weeklong European tour with visits to the capital city of Bonn, the U.S. military base at Ramstein and Berlin, where he will formally deactivate the last U.S. troops stationed in the once-divided city.

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