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Russia, U.S. Agree On A March 20-21 Summit

Helsinki meeting will focus on NATO expansion


WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 7) -- A March summit between President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin will be held in Helsinki, rather than the United States, because of Yeltsin's fragile health, officials said today.

The summit is set for March 20-21 in the Finnish capital. A formal announcement was made by Vice President Al Gore and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who met to decide on a venue and agenda.

Among the issues to be discussed, Gore and Chernomyrdin told reporters, will be NATO expansion, bilateral arms control, technological cooperation and economic development.


The summit originally was to occur in the United States, but the Helsinki location was a concession to Yeltsin's health. The Russian leader underwent heart bypass surgery in November and questions have persisted about his condition.

Word of the summit was expected. In early December, Yeltsin and Clinton spoke on the phone and agreed to a March meeting. The only question was the time and place.

Russia leaders are concerned that NATO's expansion could be seen as a threat by some and strengthen the hand of ultra-nationalists. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization intends to begin identifying proposed new members later this year and then admit them by 1999. Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland are likely candidates.

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