Clinton, seven leaders open Moscow summit on nuclear security Russia for first time agrees to sign nuclear test ban

April 20, 1996|By COX NEWS SERVICE

MOSCOW -- Eight world leaders gathered to advance nuclear security 10 years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster were diverted yesterday to make an urgent call for a cease-fire in the latest flaring of Middle East violence.

After opening at a Kremlin dinner last night, the summit holds working sessions today chaired by Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin and French President Jacques Chirac, the summit's co-hosts.

The summit of Russia and the Group of Seven developed countries is not only aimed at promoting nuclear security; it also is an international bear hug for Mr. Yeltsin. Many of the world leaders fear he may lose to Gennady Zyuganov, the Communist candidate in June's presidential election.

Mr. Clinton will hold separate talks with Mr. Yeltsin tomorrow. They are likely to soft-pedal potentially divisive issues from the war in Chechnya to the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to Russia's sale of nuclear reactor equipment to Iran.

Mr. Yeltsin issued a statement yesterday that Russia will sign a xTC global nuclear test ban treaty, which has been backed by most Western powers but never till now by Russia.

The leaders also issued a call for peace between Israel and the Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

"Only a political solution can provide a lasting settlement to the present crisis and enable a resumption of the peace process," said a statement issued by President Clinton, President Yeltsin, President Chirac and the leaders of Japan, Germany, Britain, Italy and Canada.

During a visit to St. Petersburg earlier in the day, Mr. Clinton laid a wreath at Piskaryevskoye Memorial Cemetery in memory of nearly 500,000 people who perished in the 900-day Nazi siege of Leningrad, as the city was called in World War II.

"The citizens here wrote with their blood and defiance one of the greatest chapters in all the history of human heroism," he said.

"It calls out to us all of us, Russians and Americans alike, to work together in peace for the common good for all our people and for the world," Mr. Clinton said.

Taking note of the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, the president said: "Our hearts must be very close to home and to the sadness and sacrifice of our own citizens."

Mr. Clinton clearly seemed to relish his return to St. Petersburg, which he first visited briefly as an Oxford University graduate student in 1970.

"I wanted to see the living quarters of Catherine the Great," a smiling Mr. Clinton told a small group of reporters during a two-hour tour of the Hermitage, which once served as her winter palace and now houses priceless art treasures.

Asked how the ornate palace compared with the far simpler housing at the White House, Mr. Clinton laughed and said, "I like mine just fine." He also noted that the Russian leader who lived amid so much splendor "didn't have to run for election."

He laughed aloud at a huge 18th-century peacock clock that spread its golden wings and danced in a circle as he approached.

Pub Date: 4/20/96

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