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U.S. Department of State
96/02/10 Press Conference in Helsinki, Finland
Office of the Spokesman



                     U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
                      Office of the Spokesman 
 
                         (Helsinki, Finland) 
_____________________________________________________________________
For Immediate Release                               February 10, 1996 
 
 
 
 
                         PRESS CONFERENCE 
                            GIVEN BY  
              SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER 
  
                      Intercontinental Hotel 
                        Helsinki, Finland 
 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Good afternoon. Let me begin by thanking the 
Government of Finland for their very warm hospitality even in the dead 
of winter. This is a beautiful city, isn't it, and I must say that I 
felt very welcome and it is generous of the Finnish government to, once 
again, make their facilities available for an international meeting.  
 
As you know, starting last night and continuing this morning, Foreign 
Minister Primakov and I had a good and productive set of discussions. It 
ranged very widely, covering more than six hours and covered virtually 
the full agenda between our two countries.  These meetings were content-
filled, straight forward and business-like. 
 
Two main themes emerged from the meetings.  First, this marked the 
beginning of a new and practical set of working relationships between 
Foreign Minister Primakov and myself.  I've said consistently that the 
relations between Russia and the United States are vital to the security 
of our two countries, Europe, and indeed, the world as a whole.  The 
talks here gave us a good opportunity to get acquainted and in 
circumstances where we could focus on the relationship between each 
other and our countries.  
 
The second theme of the talks was the commitment that both made to a 
continuity of the relationship between our two countries.  We need to 
build on the important progress that we have made up to this point.  For 
three years the United States has pursued a down-to earth, practical 
approach to US-Russian relations that has served our national interests 
well in my judgement.  Our cooperation has produced a number of things 
for the American people, and most dramatically, the reduction in our 
nuclear arsenals and the lack of or the absence of any nuclear missiles 
being targeted at the United States.  We have also worked on such 
subjects as advancing peace in the Middle East and Yugoslavia. 
 
We focused today on how we can build on this set of achievements, how we 
can move them further forward.  We are planning a full ministerial 
meeting in Moscow in about a month - the third week of March.  Then a 
month after that there will be the nuclear safety and security summit in 
Moscow where President Yeltsin and President Clinton will also have a 
bilateral meeting. 
 
Security issues of course remain at the center of our agenda and that 
occupied a good deal of our discussion today.  We talked about the 
ratification of START II and the goal of that is now for Russia since 
our Senate has acted to ratify. We talked about the comprehensive test 
ban and the leadership that the United States and Russia should take 
together in achieving a zero-yield test ban.  We reviewed other arms 
control issues:  chemical warfare, biological warfare, the flank limits 
agreement.  So we went through the whole range of arms control issues 
and resolved to continue working on them and charged our experts to 
intensify these discussions. 
 
We spoke about a number of regional issues.  We talked about the Dayton 
agreement and our joint commitment to make sure that that's implemented 
as successfully as possible.  And, of course, we talked about the 
unprecedented collaboration between our military forces in Bosnia - 
unprecedented I guess at least since World War 2 - the subject that I 
think has long-term implications for Europe and long-term implications 
for our working together in other respects.  
 
In the course of the meetings, I reaffirmed our decision to pursue a 
gradual and transparent process of the enlargement of NATO. I made it 
clear that NATO will over time admit new members.  This is an issue on 
which the United States and Russia disagreed, but we committed ourselves 
to effectively and constructively manage this disagreement.  I stressed 
that the NATO Alliance is not a threat to any country, indeed, that it's 
proven its value as a guarantor of security in Europe. 
 
We spent some time on the Middle East, discussed the Middle East peace 
process.  The Minister welcomed my offer to send our Middle East 
Coordinator Ambassador Dennis Ross to Moscow to brief him and his 
colleagues in some depth.  We also had discussions on other countries in 
the Middle East - Iraq, Iran, Libya - and the discussions have had an 
unusual degree of convergence. 
 
In connection with the new independent states, I reaffirmed the United 
States support for the independence and sovereignty of all of those 
states.  I told the Minister that I felt that the United States felt, 
that the relations between Russia and the other New Independent States 
should be based upon voluntariness, non-exclusivity and be outward 
looking, and the Minister agreed.  Speaking of the new independent 
states, we agreed to work together with each other but most importantly 
with the parties, on such controversies as the Nagorno-Karabakh  
controversy and the controversy in Georgia.  Our goal is for a 
democratic Russia to deepen its integration into the international 
community and its key institutions.  As I've said several times, the 
pace of integration will depend upon Russia's adherence to the norms and 
principles of the world democracies. 
 
We agreed that our cooperation is vitally important and must continue, 
and as I say, I think we're off to a good and practical start.  We'll be 
maintaining a dialogue in person as well as on the telephone as we 
approach this next two months leading up to the summit, as well as 
continuing our joint diplomatic endeavors around the world.  I'm glad to 
take your questions. 
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, Your impressions on what is going on 
internally in Russia, obviously you focused on foreign affairs. William 
Saphire, for instance, wrote a recent column on lights going out all 
over Russia.  Democracy is on the wane and questions where the 
liberalization is in safe hands and then suggests that the United States 
maybe should concentrate on another liberal reform candidate. Are you 
confident that democracy is not just going into a downspin? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Very like the Foreign Minister in a prior press 
conference  I don't prefer to be an expert on the economy but what I can 
say is that the commitment to democracy seems to be a deep one and an 
enduring one. As you know, they've had recent parliamentary elections 
with the Duma.  They're in the midst of a vigorous election campaign. 
The press is free and very vigorous, so I see many signs of democracy 
being sustained and I want to try and hold myself out as a commentator 
on each of the aspects of the Russian transition. Obviously it's a 
difficult transition. As I've said  before, there are some signs of 
strain in that transition. I've been fairly clear-eyed about Russia over 
the years, not euphoric about it but, nevertheless, my meeting today did 
give me a sense that Foreign Minister Primakov, under directions from 
his President, is trying to ensure a continuity in our relationships. 
 
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, we spoke with your Spokesman last night after 
the dinner and we asked a number of questions.  One that was put to him 
was were there any surprises that Primakov had and he answered in the 
affirmative.  I was wondering if you could share any of those surprises 
with us. 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Well, it's a little hard to cross-examine me 
about what my spokesman said. 
 
QUESTION: He didn't say what the surprises were, only that there were 
surprises. 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I think that the attitude of openness that he 
brought, his willingness to recognize that there are differences but to 
try to narrow those differences.  He stressed that the Cold War is over 
and that neither he or those of his colleagues saw any return to that 
kind of a relationship.  One of the striking things to me was the 
firmness with which he took that position and that was in a sense a 
surprise because he emphasized strongly the continuity in our 
relationship and his desire not to pretend we didn't have differences 
but to try to resolve them, if possible and to manage them where we 
couldn't resolve them.  That was an immediate response from him and I 
found that a pleasant surprise. 
 
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, Mr. Primakov has emphasized that he is going to 
make the relationship with the CIS his priority.  And of course, he has 
visited CIS countries before coming here.  Did you have a discussion 
about the role of Ukraine between East and West? I mean, did you, did he 
raise with any concern the sudden spate of meetings and summit meetings 
that were announced on the eve of your visit with him here? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Steve, I know you know this territory very well 
from your years in Moscow.  We had a good discussion of CIS and I was 
struck by his agreeing with my characterization that the relationship 
between Moscow and the other New Independent States should be voluntary 
and inclusive, rather than exclusive, and outward looking.  We talked 
about Ukraine but only in one sense and that was the importance of the 
trilateral agreement we reached between Russia, Ukraine and the United 
States and on the importance of faithfully implementing it. There was no 
discussion at all of Ukraine being between the two.  We did speak 
lightly about the fact that the room we were in was a familiar one 
because I had been in it the night before with President Kuchma, I think 
it was the same room.  But there was no edge to his comment in that 
regard.  
 
QUESTION:  Mr. Christopher, Mr. Primakov emphasized there will remain 
some differences.  What differences do you consider as most difficult, 
most dangerous? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Well, he emphasized that there will be 
differences.  And wouldn't it be surprising that two countries as vast 
and significant as we are did not have differences, especially as they 
come through a transition from 70 or 80 years of Communist dictatorship.  
I suppose the one difference that is best known around the world is our 
difference on NATO enlargement but even on that, although we did differ 
and quite firmly, nevertheless, we recognized the need to try to manage 
that difference in a constructive way.  
 
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, do you feel reassured after Primakov's 
reassurance that about Russia's involvement in transferring nuclear 
technology to Iran?  And secondly, did you express your concern about 
the reported 10-billion dollar deal between Russia and Iraq to develop - 
redevelop its oil industry, after sanctions are lifted? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: With respect to Iran, I outlined to the Foreign 
Minister my very strong concern about Iran.  I told him that we are co-
sponsors in the peace process.  That was an area where I worked on an 
almost day-to-day basis and Iran's opposition to that, its open 
opposition, not just covertly, was, I think, a source of great trouble 
to me.  Their projection of terror around the world is another deep 
concern, as well as their attempting to acquire weapons of mass 
destruction.  That was an area where we found considerable agreement 
although I would say it is an area where there are some differences that 
need to be managed.  And he indicated that they did not, that they were 
concerned about weapons of mass destruction and did not want to.  They 
wanted to be concerned that their action did not enhance Iran's capacity 
in that regard.  But I would say that that is an area where we need to 
be vigilant and monitor it.  As you know it is being discussed 
extensively in what is called the Gore-Chernomyrdin channel where they 
have had very intensive discussion of that. 
 
There was a reference in our meeting to the understanding or contract 
between Russia and Iraq, with respect, to the development of oil 
facilities.  But my understanding is that that contract, or that 
understanding, or agreement is explicitly contingent upon Iraq 
satisfying the United Nations resolutions and being out from under the 
oil sanction.  And in that regard, one of the surprises, a pleasant 
surprise was the extent to which the Foreign Minister emphasized that he 
was going to be relying very heavily on Mr. Ekeus and the Ekeus report 
and that until there was full compliance on the weapons of mass 
destruction issue that Russia would not be proceeding to support a 
lifting of the oil sanctions.  So if there is such an agreement it is 
certainly contingent on the lifting of the oil sanctions. 
 
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, in his response to the question of NATO 
expansion, Mr. Primakov suggested that it was necessary to find the 
right solution that could satisfy both the United States and Russia and 
the Eastern and central European countries.  Did he suggest any 
proposals, any compromise Russia or he might see to satisfy the need for 
European security? 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: No, I don't think I can identify a solution with 
him but what I did was to stress first that Russia is participating very 
actively in the Partnership for Peace and that is a plus.  And Russia is 
also participating in what we call beyond Partnership for Peace 
discussions in Brussels.  Russian forces are working with NATO forces, 
United States forces in Bosnia and there is a prospect of a NATO-Russia 
dialogue.  I think that group of approaches, in that group of approaches 
lies the best long-term solution to the problem and I urge that there be 
an activation of the discussions between Russia and NATO.  
 
SPOKESMAN BURNS:  Last question to Finnish television. 
 
QUESTION: Would be possible .... (inaudible) 
 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: The United States has had a relationship with 
Russia that goes back to the beginning of our Administration and in 
which we have been cooperative with Russia and supportive of the reform 
in Russia.  We will continue down that line because it is strongly in 
our, the United States' interest.  At the same time, I think, as I said 
in my statement, we recognize that the pace of Russian involvement in 
Western institutions will be geared to their adherence to international 
norms.  In that sense, we are going to be firm and set a high standard.  
But our, I think our responsibility and our role here is to recognize 
the importance of Russia in the world, both the economy and the 
political side, and to see if there are not constructive ways to work 
together.  As I have said before, I can't simply make a list of our 
differences and walk away.  I need to manage them and I am managing them 
with understanding and with cooperation, but with firmness where 
necessary. 
 
Since I am on Finnish television, can I also thank you again for the 
hospitality and express great appreciation for the beauty of this city 
even in the middle of winter.  
 
Thank you very much.  
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