U.S. officials upbeat after Clinton-Yeltsin meeting
June 20, 1999
COLOGNE, Germany (CNN) -- U.S. officials claimed immediate progress Sunday after a one-hour meeting between presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin designed to get U.S.-Russian relations back on track after the bitter tension of the Kosovo conflict.
Clinton and Yeltsin met along with their foreign policy advisers after the close of the G-8 summit in Cologne.
"The two countries are back in business," said Samuel Berger, Clinton's national security adviser, in a news conference after the meeting.
"They agreed essentially that our two countries have gone through a difficult period through the Kosovo war that put substantial strains on our relationship, but it was now time to turn to the future, to put that behind us," Berger said, calling the face-to-face "a meeting of renewal."
Berger added that Yeltsin extended an invitation for Clinton to visit Moscow.
The leaders had agreed to resume talks this fall aimed at sketching out plans for a new round of nuclear arms reductions to be called START III, according to a joint statement issued by the two governments.
Berger said Yeltsin also pledged anew to push the Russian Duma to ratify the Start II nuclear arms treaty, a long-stalled action put off most recently because of Russian anger over the strikes on Yugoslavia. But Russian officials told their U.S. counterparts it would be impossible to get the Duma to act before a summer recess that begins in August, U.S. sources said.
Yeltsin also said that Russia would consider changes in the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty between the two countries that would allow the United States to deploy a national ballistic missile defense system. Such a system is prohibited under the current treaty.
Congressional Republicans in the United States have argued that the ABM treaty, negotiated with the Soviet Union in 1972, no longer applies. But the Clinton administration argues that Russia is the Soviet Union's successor and must be consulted for any treaty changes.
Yeltsin, who has a history of health problems, missed the first two days of the G-8 summit. Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin represented Russia before Yeltsin arrived.
But Berger said the Russian president, although walking a little stiffly, "looked robust."
"He was very forceful," Berger said. "His fist was pounding at a couple of points."
White House Correspondent John King contributed to this report.
Yeltsin, Clinton hold face-to-face meeting
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