Gore to urge Yeltsin to push reforms He, others in Cabinet have flown to Moscow for annual meeting

July 14, 1996|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON -- Vice President Al Gore will urge Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin to capitalize on the mandate for reform that he won with his re-election when the two men meet in Moscow, probably tomorrow, U.S. officials said last week. Gore was to arrive in Moscow last night.

He and about half the U.S. Cabinet will be in Moscow tomorrow and Tuesday for the seventh in a series of semiannual meetings with their Russian counterparts, led by Prime Minister Viktor S. Chernomyrdin, who has been renominated to his post by Yeltsin.

Gore will be the first U.S. official to spend much time with Yeltsin since health problems stopped him from campaigning at the end of the long Russian election campaign.

President Clinton, who spoke with Yeltsin on the telephone July 5, said the Russian "sounded so good" that he "didn't have to ask him about his health."

But Yeltsin's energy level and capacity for hard work are open questions, and American officials hope that a chance for real reform of Russia's institutions and legal structure will not be squandered by a president known for his long retreats after crises are passed.

JTC "While there are many rough spots ahead, this meeting takes place in an atmosphere of more optimism than any other," Gore said Friday.

It will be the first meeting of what has come to be known as the "Gore-Chernomyrdin commission," Gore said, "when we can say that Russia is not facing an imminent risk of sliding into hyper-inflation."

The vice president refused to suggest that Yeltsin should renege on his generous campaign promises, which could break the Russian budget, saying with a grin that such decisions, "so characteristic of democracies," were up to the Russians.

It is by no means clear that Yeltsin and Chernomyrdin agree on short-term economic policy, however, with Yeltsin going on television last Wednesday to say that fighting inflation was no longer a top priority.

Chernomyrdin is said to favor a retightening of belts, while the International Monetary Fund's representative in Moscow, Thomas Wolfe, said it was time for Russia to "attend to the budget and raise revenues" as soon as possible to remain within IMF guidelines for a $10.2 billion loan.

Pub Date: 7/14/96

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