U.S. Department of State
Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York
September 23, 1996
Remarks by Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Yevgeniy Primakov Following Their Bilateral Meeting
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Good evening. I'm very pleased to meet again today with Foreign Minister Primakov. As you can tell from the time that elapsed, we had a lot of things to discuss. We discussed a very broad range of issues involving cooperation between the United States and Russia, both in Europe and around the world.
There's no better evidence of our cooperation than our work together in favor of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. I'm very pleased that Foreign Minister Primakov will be signing on behalf of Russia tomorrow, as will President Clinton on behalf of the United States, being among the first signatories of the treaty.
As you know, we've been working toward an agreed demarcation of the anti-ballistic missile systems as they are limited by the ABM Treaty; systems that are limited and systems that are not.
Today, we reached a milestone in that agreement in the process launched by President Clinton and President Yeltsin at their May 1995 summit meeting. Foreign Minister Primakov and I confirmed that an agreement has been reached on the first phase of the negotiation covering lower velocity, theater missile defenses.
The documents will be signed by the end of October, and we'll work to complete an overall demarcation agreement as soon as possible. This important progress assures that we can effectively defend against theater ballistic missiles, while ensuring the integrity of the ABM Treaty.
In today's meeting, we reviewed the continuing progress of our efforts to build peace and stability in Bosnia. We worked together over the last several weeks on a successful, general election in that country. The Minister and I today referred to the importance of the upcoming municipal election.
The next critical step in Bosnia, in addition to the municipal election, is making sure that the national institutions will function effectively and they'll be able to carry out the provisions of the Dayton Accords.
As I said to the Minister, I think the record of cooperation that our two nations have forged in Bosnia is a very positive sign, good implications for the future of our security ties. Our partnership in IFOR is a first step toward building a fundamentally new relationship between Russia and NATO. Our discussions will continue. We'll be working on that subject.
I reaffirmed to the Minister that we want Russia to be our full partner in building a democratic and undivided Europe.
I might mention one more matter. I asked the Minister to convey the concern of President Clinton and myself for President Yeltsin's health and to wish him the very best over the next days and weeks.
MINISTER PRIMAKOV: (Through interpreter) Thank you, Mr. Secretary. The negotiations were quite lengthy. They went even beyond the scope of what we envisioned. The negotiations were useful. Both sides understand full well how important the relations between our two countries are.
Both countries are interested in seeing to it that these relations should be improved.
Different issues were examined. The Secretary has mentioned that we did have a discussion with regard to the crisis in the former Yugoslavia. We are of the opinion and we believe that we both are of the opinion that the most important thing now is the implementation of the results of the elections which took place in Yugoslavia, which means the creating of the supreme authority which would cement the relations between two state entities.
We came to the agreement that our sides will do everything in order to see to it that such a ceiling would be installed over Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Naturally, we did discuss the situation in Europe. We have different approaches to the NATO expansion. On the other hand, there is full understanding that everything should be done in order to prevent this from hampering the development of the Russian-American relations.
QUESTION: A question for the Secretary. With President Yeltsin's health in question and every day there are reports that he's sicker than originally thought, are you confident that the Russian Government is speaking with one voice to discuss matters with it?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: First, with respect to President Yeltsin's health situation, we are pleased that he is getting excellent care and is addressing those problems. About that, I can only say that we wish him, in the most heartfelt way, a quick recovery and wish him the very best.
There was no question today about the fact that the Minister was speaking for the government. Prime Minister Chernomyrdin is the active day-to-day working head of the country. President Yeltsin, of course, is still very much involved and in charge. Nothing that I perceive gives me any question about the fact that the Foreign Minister is speaking for his government or in any other respect the elected and constituted authorities aren't speaking for their government.
QUESTION: (Through interpreter) The question is, I understood Secretary Christopher that you reached certain agreements on disarmament? Maybe I understood everything wrong. Could you clarify that?
MINISTER PRIMAKOV:(Through interpreter) Your understanding is correct. The joint statement which exists attest to the fact that the first stage on the demarcation between the different systems of the ABM has been completed.
Since early October the sides embarked on the second stage of the negotiations -- on the second stage -- and the second stage is related to the high-velocity systems. When these negotiations are over, that would signify the end of the demarcation between the strategic and theater ABMs which would have, or which can have a significant, positive effect on the ratification of the SALT II in the State Duma.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary and Mr. Minister, I wonder if you discussed the situation in Iraq, and whether you have the same opinion of it, continuing usefulness or otherwise.
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: We discussed the situation in Iraq very briefly. We indicated our satisfaction that the situation seems to be calming down there. Beyond that, I don't want to go further into the nature of our discussion on that subject. It came up, but it was not a primary subject of discussion today.
Thank you very much.