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Joint US/Russian Press Conference

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Office of the Spokesman (Singapore)

For Immediate Release July 26, 1999

PRESS CONFERENCE BY SECRETARY OF STATE MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT AND RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IGOR IVANOV

Mandarin Hotel, Singapore

July 26, 1999

FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV (through interpreter): Ladies and Gentlemen, we have just signed a memorandum on the organization of the direct secure communications line between the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia and the Secretary of State of the United States. The recent developments in the world demonstrate the need for having a continuously operating and reliable communication. Due to a number of known circumstances, the relations between the United States and Russia cannot but influence the general state of affairs in the entire world, be it security stability in the world at large and also including in the Asia and Pacific region. The state of affairs and the coordination between Moscow and Washington define largely the situation in the world and the entire region of the Asia Pacific in particular.

In the recent years, a considerable wealth of experience in the area of cooperation and new mechanisms and arrangements for cooperation have been developed. Russia is a proponent of partnership relationship with the United States. Of course, the crisis in the Balkans couldn't have but negatively influenced this relations, and that is why we should now double or even triple our efforts now that we have turned the corner on these events. And we should continue with further development of our cooperative relationships.

Our strategic objective is a stable relationship that is not subject to any deviations or surprises laying the foundations for the continued relationship between the United States and Russia in the 21st century. It is these principles that the two presidents of Russia and the United States reiterated and supported during their recent meeting in Cologne. Precisely, these objectives and tasks are now being discussed by our Prime Minister in Washington, and it is precisely the subject of our discussions with Secretary of State Albright tonight.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good evening, and I am very pleased to see my friend the Foreign Minister once again at a time of renewed momentum in the relationship between our two countries. This is reflected in Prime Minister Stepashin's visits to Washington tomorrow when he and Vice- President Gore will chair a meeting of the U.S.-Russian Joint Commission. The commission has been very valuable in recent years not only in addressing specific bilateral issues but also in helping our relationship move ahead following difficult times. Foreign Minister Ivanov and I will meet in that same spirit.

U.S. and Russian forces are now serving side by side in Kosovo. We are united in our desire to implement the peace and create a future in which the rights of all Kosovars are protected. But our agenda extends far beyond the Balkans. The Foreign Minister and I will be discussing other security issues in Europe and the Asia Pacific -- strategic arms reduction and the ABM treaty, prospects for a re-energized peace processes of the Middle East , and non-proliferation. We will also be pursuing our dialogue on economic issues including Russia's reform program and the IMF.

The U.S.-Russia relationship remains as significant a bilateral relationship as any in the world. The cooperative agreement achieved in Helsinki shows our continued ability to work together on matters vital to us both.

The Memorandum of Understanding the Foreign Minister and I have just signed establishing a secure communications link between our two offices is another clear example of our continued cooperation. And I look forward today's meeting with Igor Sergeivich and to deepening our partnership even further in the weeks and months to come.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, can you explain U.S. concerns about the level of Russian spies in the United States and have you received a response to the U.S. request that this presence be reduced? And Mr. Foreign Minister when will Russia be prepared to fully re-engage with NATO, including the Partnership for Peace?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I don't think it's really appropriate to comment on intelligence matters. We have a very good relationship, and if a problem comes up, we deal with it.

FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV (through interpreter): As to our relations with NATO, you are aware that we've already held the first session devoted to the questions of providing security in Kosovo. We will continue our contacts with the view to identifying areas of mutual interest aimed at the continued and developed cooperation and interaction.

QUESTION: Question to Secretary Albright. In connection with the forthcoming elections in Russia what candidates that the United States would favor as possible winners during the elections?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Believe it or not, we do not interfere in the domestic politics of other countries, and we do not have a favorite candidate. (Laughter.) We don't even know who's running.

QUESTION: Mr. Prime Minister, every time that Russian Duma seems like on the verge of taking up the START II Treaty something intervenes and it gets postponed again. Can you tell us what your government might do this time to try to persuade the Duma to bring it up when they reconvene in September? And Madam Secretary, will the administration continue to delay sending to the Senate the modifications to the ABM treaty while waiting for the Duma to pass START II?

FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV (through interpreter): Both the President of Russia and the Russian government are convinced that ratification of the START II treaty is in the interests of Russia. And after the Duma convenes itself in late September, we intend to renew our efforts with the view to the ratification of the START II treaty. At the same time, we intend to initiate consultations with the United States with a view to defining the main parameters for that future treaty, START III.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, there clearly is a lot of activity going on in the arms control area and as the Foreign Minister said they are looking forward to a ratification of the Start II. As our Presidents said at Cologne, the ABM and START III discussions will be going at parallel this summer. There are going to be a number of different meetings, and we think that it is important to proceed with process rather than separating it all out.

QUESTION: Question to Secretary Albright. Madame Albright, is it possible to see the repetition of the Kosovo precedent of the use of force against a nation in other regions?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say, first of all, that everything that we know from having followed the Kosovo issue very carefully is that it was a unique situation sui generis in the region of the Balkans, following on a series of actions that actually began in 1991 back to 1989 with the kinds of actions that Milosevic took. It is a unique situation for the Balkans. And also it is within an area where NATO would function under normal circumstances, and I think it's very important while drawing -- as we study the lessons of Kosovo, not to overdraw the various lessons that come out of it. We should be looking at what happens in Kosovo itself.

QUESTION: Mr. Ivanov. Protests are growing in Yugoslavia against Slobodan Milosevic. He's even been criticized by the military, the Yugoslav military, it seems Yugoslavia will remain isolated as long as he is in power. Does Russia think it is time, maybe for the Yugoslav people to have some ..?

FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV (through interpreter): The Yugoslav people do not need any prompting from the outside. They are able to make up their own minds.

QUESTION: A question to Secretary Albright. Madam Secretary what's your estimate of the damage to the Russia-U.S. relations due the conflict in Kosovo? And what is your estimation of the time necessary to at least restore the present level of the relationship?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all I think there is no doubt about the fact that we disagreed about what was going on in Kosovo. Neither of us made any bones about that. But I can also assure you, in the same words as the Foreign Minister, that even throughout the entire episode, we spoke on the phone -- not as conveniently as we are about to be able to. And we were at very many meetings together. And we worked very hard together to try to bring the conflict to an end.

And at the same time, we both said to each other that the Russia-U.S. relationship was so important and so broad that it could not be damaged by the Kosovo situation even though we did not agree on that. And I think that if you put our two opening statements together, it will be very clear that one, we are looking forward to speaking to each other again face-to-face. And two, is that we have a huge number of subjects to cover. And I think that, given that, it is my hope that we will; that there is no diminution in the importance of our relationship or in the warmth of it.

Thank you.

(###)


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