Clinton to visit despite surprising firings by Yeltsin

August 24, 1998|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON -- Senior Clinton administration officials said yesterday that they were troubled by President Boris N. Yeltsin's decision to fire the reformist Russian government so close to the summit meeting with President Clinton next week in Moscow. But a spokesman said Clinton had decided to go ahead with his trip.

Clinton administration officials acknowledged that they were surprised by Yeltsin's move, which also reinstated former Prime Minister Viktor S. Chernomyrdin. Five months ago, Yeltsin dismissed Chernomyrdin and installed Sergei V. Kiriyenko as prime minister with a Cabinet of economic reformers with no discernible political constituency.

"This won't affect the trip or the timing of the summit," said P. J. Crowley, a White House spokesman. "We have important bilateral issues. This is an internal Russian matter, and we obviously will watch it closely. We will continue to work with the Russian government to advance the reform agenda. What faces acting Prime Minister Chernomyrdin is the need to take effective steps to address Russia's economic difficulties."

While Clinton did not try to phone Yeltsin yesterday, Vice President Al Gore spoke with Kiriyenko and Chernomyrdin to gauge the political climate before Clinton's arrival in Moscow on Sept. 1, and to ask how Washington can help calm markets.

Pub Date: 8/24/98

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