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World - Europe

Clinton, Putin exchange complaints in Oslo meeting

Clinton and Putin
Clinton and Putin  

November 2, 1999
Web posted at: 2:43 p.m. EST (1943 GMT)

From Correspondent John King

OSLO, Norway (CNN) -- U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin exchanged complaints Tuesday at an Oslo meeting that underscored the mounting tensions in U.S.-Russia relations.

U.S. officials told CNN that Clinton characterized the Russian military campaign in Chechnya as an overreaction and urged restraint. In turn, the officials said, Putin told the president the Russian offensive in the rebel region is a legitimate response to a domestic terrorist threat and said Moscow was doing its best to limit civilian casualties.

U.S. officials have repeatedly complained to Russian counterparts in recent weeks about the Chechen campaign, warning that Russia would face increasing international condemnation if it continued its military offensive.

Putin also delivered a message from President Boris Yeltsin, the officials said, warning of "extremely dangerous" consequences to arms control efforts if the United States persists in trying to amend the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty as part of its plans for a new missile defense system.

The 1972 ABM treaty bans defense systems that shoot enemy missiles out of the sky under the impression that allowing such systems would encourage large stockpiles of nuclear warheads.

The United States wants to build a new missile system to protect itself and its allies from so-called "rogue states" such as North Korea.

Russian officials have hinted that talks on such issues as strategic arms could be adversely affected by a U.S. decision to go forward with its plans.

Both leaders are scheduled to attend the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe conference in Turkey in two weeks, and U.S. officials privately said the Chechen crisis is likely to be the top issue of discussion unless there is some change in the conflict.

Clinton and Putin shook hands but did not speak to reporters at the top of their meeting, conducted during a Middle East peace summit in Oslo.

Clinton to press Putin for restraint in Chechnya
November 1, 1999
Red Cross says Russian attack on refugees killed 2 of its workers
October 30, 1999
U.S. urges peace in Chechnya; Chechens say Russians attacked refugees
October 29, 1999
U.N. sending humanitarian mission to Chechnya region
October 28, 1999
Russian jets bomb central Grozny
October 27, 1999
Russian forces bombard northern limits of Chechen capital
October 26, 1999
Russian forces push closer to Grozny
October 25, 1999

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