|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and|
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov
Joint Press Conference
January 26, 1999, Moscow, Russia
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: Ladies and gentlemen, the visit to Russia by the Secretary of State of the United States Madam Albright is coming to its end. The leadership of our two countries attached much importance to this visit, considering both the importance of Russian-American relations in the international context and the appearance in our relations lately of certain complex moments.
The program of the Secretary of State's visit was a very packed one. I will only say that this morning Madam Albright had a telephone conversation with the President of the Russian Federation, Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin. They discussed key issues of Russian-American relations as well as the most pressing international problems. It is fundamentally important that the adherence of Russia and the United States to the development of bilateral relations on the basis of equality, respect and due account of each other's interests was confirmed.
The main result, therefore, of the visit to Russia by the Secretary of State is the confirmation of the understanding reached by the presidents of our two countries at their last meeting in Moscow of the closeness of the strategic interests of Russia and the United States.
In this context, Madam Albright, on instruction of the President of the United States, particularly noted that the leadership of the United States adheres to the development of relations of strategic partnership with Russia and intends to prevent occasional setbacks to exert a determining influence on our relations.
Moscow fully subscribes to this point of view. We believe that the non-coincidence of views on some matters should not serve as an obstacle to the development of our partnership relations. Differences should be resolved by way of consultations on a mutually acceptable basis with due account for the interests of the sides.
It is also important not to make surprises for each other. We believe that the talks were constructive and fruitful. We managed to reached concrete understanding on a number of urgent and important matters and resolve some serious concerns.
Disarmament issues were one of the main topics at the talks. We discussed the implementation of the START I treaty, including our concerns, prospects for the ratification of the START II treaty, and future talks on real cuts.
We had a serious discussion of the ABM Treaty. In response to our official inquiries we have received lately a number of explanations concerning the U.S. approach toward the national anti-ballistic missile defense, including in messages to the President of the Russian Federation and the chairman of the government of Russia. This position is now being studied very thoroughly.
We believe that further cuts in strategic offensive weapons can be done only if there is a clear vision for preserving and observing this treaty as the cornerstone of strategic stability.
We discussed in great detail the adaptation of the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty. This is a critical treaty for European and global stability. We managed to specify our positions and bring them closer. We agreed to try to solve key problems by the end of February in order to have a concerted agreement of the joint consultative group before NATO begins to enlarge. The final decision concerning CFE adaptation will have to be made at the OSCE summit in Istanbul in November 1999. We will continue talks on this matter both with the U.S. and other parties to the treaty.
Talks and consultations on disarmament and arms control will be intensified. Both sides seek to hold them in the spirit of transparency and openness.
Also discussed at the talks were problems of non-proliferation and export control. We do not have differences in terms of aims. The reality of this threat to our national interests is obvious. We in Russia are taking all measures to toughen our regime of export control. We are studying all concrete cases of possible violations. We are actively interacting with the United States in these matters, taking into account both their and our concerns.
The launching of seven bilateral export-control groups, set up in accordance with a decision made by the presidents last September, will be very helpful in this respect. At the same time, of course, we cannot accept a policy of pressure. That is a mistaken path.
We both agreed that Russian-American engagement is the key element in the maintenance of international security and stability. We have accomplishments in the field of resolving and deepening (inaudible) regional crises, although our approaches do not fully coincide.
We are particularly worried by relapses of the use of force in circumvention of the United Nations Security Council. This is fraught with the danger of undermining the existing system of international relations. It is most important for the existing differences to be resolved on the basis of dialog, account for the views and interests of the sides. In this context we studied the situation in Kosovo and in Iraq. In both cases a resolution by political means is possible.
As a result of the talks we agreed on a joint statement on Kosovo. Of course, much attention was given to European affairs, including to questions of interaction in the OSCE. Here we have common interests with the United States. As is known, there are also certain differences, first of all those connected with NATO expansion. Our position of principle on this question remains unchanged.
We are attentively following the possible results of work on the new strategic concept of the Alliance. We are prepared to continue an intensive dialog with NATO on the basis of the Founding Act.
On the whole, I would like to stress that the recent contacts between the presidents of our two countries, between Mr. Primakov and Vice President of the United States Gore, as well as the results of the talks with Madam Albright show that jointly we manage to remove irritants and remain committed to onward development and cooperation for the benefit of both countries. We agreed that we will continue our contacts within the coming months.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good day, I'd like to begin by thanking the government and people of Russia for their hospitality and for everything they've done to ensure the success of my meetings these last two days.
I was very pleased to also have had the chance to speak with President Yeltsin. We spoke for almost half an hour and as Foreign Minister Ivanov said we had the possibility of touching a large number of the issues that the Foreign Minister and I have talked about for the last couple of days.
I passed along President Clinton's best wishes for a speedy recovery and the President's commitment to our very important relationship.
Foreign Minister Ivanov and I have held extensive talks on a broad range of issues, on which we have common interest and concerns. Earlier today we signed a technology safeguards agreement. It puts in place firm measures to protect sensitive American technology on satellites launched by Russia from the Kazakhstan Space Center.
The agreement does not replace or circumvent our strict case-by-case approval procedures for Russian launches of American satellites, but it will allow us to resume space launch cooperation that is consistent with our non-proliferation objectives. And that is a plus for all three of our countries.
We have also adopted a joint statement about the very dangerous situation in Kosovo in wake of the massacre of Kosovar Albanians in Racak. We agreed that the killings must be fully investigated and those responsible brought to justice.
We insist that the FRY authorities must, without delay, comply with the resolutions of the UN Security Council, particularly with regard to the presence of police and military units in Kosovo.
The FRY must also facilitate the work of the OSCE, the International Criminal Tribunal on the former Yugoslavia, and humanitarian organizations.
In short, we are united in our deep concern at the escalation of violence on all sides in Kosovo and we will be working together closely to promote progress toward a political settlement.
Foreign Minister Ivanov and I have also discussed extensively our common concern about missile and nuclear cooperation between Russian entities and Iran. Senior Russian officials have recently spoken out on the need to tighten Russia's export control systems. On that basis we will expand and intensify the work of the export control groups established by Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin and continue our high-level dialogue. And we have confirmed our conviction that Iraq must fully comply with UN resolutions and end its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.
We discussed a broad range of arms control issues. We will ask the U.S.-Russian strategic stability group chaired by our deputies to continue our intensive work in the coming weeks. I am hopeful that the next time I am here, START II will have been ratified and we will be discussing START III.
We've had wide-ranging discussions on the treaty on conventional armed forces in Europe. We and the other parties to the treaty will work to resolve key issues as soon as possible with the goal of signing an adapted treaty at the OSCE summit this fall, as the Foreign Minister has said.
Finally, we had a first exchange of views on how we might respond to new missile threats while keeping the ABM Treaty at the center of our arms control policy. I stressed to the Foreign Minister that we are only at the beginning of a long progress, one which we want to work with Russia to preserve the security of both our countries.
In addition to my meetings with the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and other government and Duma officials I have had an opportunity to meet with many Russian civil and human rights leaders and with representatives of American business. In all of those conversation, I stressed that America wants to support a Russia that is taking the right steps to put its economy back on track. The United States remains the largest foreign investor in Russia and 95 percent of our businesses say that they are in Russia for the long run.
I recalled America's own experience of the work of building democracy as slow and difficult. And I expressed the concern of the international community that Russia stay on the path toward democracy and openness and work to combat extremism and anti-semitism. The rule of law must apply to every Russian citizen, including journalists, religious activists and others such as Alexander Nikitin.
American wants to see Russia succeed and to work with Russia's government and people to build a strong partnership. And this week, I believe, we have made progress toward that goal and set the stage for a cordial and productive new year. Thank you very much.
QUESTION: On Kosovo. There seem to be echoes of Bosnia, consultations, consultations, consultations, people getting killed. Is there a consensus developing not only with Russia but with the Allies, will the U.S. consider sending ground troops in a NATO peacekeeping mission, if you could get a ceasefire going again?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, I hope very much that people will understand that there is really quite a difference between Bosnia and Kosovo just in its set up. Bosnia having been an independent republic and Kosovo being a part of Yugoslavia. And the long-term goal that the Contact Group plus the international community has which is to develop some form of self-autonomy, the highest possible for the people of Kosovo.
Clearly again, we are very concerned about the killings in Kosovo and the fact that there have been an overly large number of Yugoslav forces and the special police in Kosovo in contradiction to the agreement made by Ambassador Holbrooke with President Milosevic, and we are also concerned by some of the provocative acts of the KLA and the killings that have gone on generally.
I think that it is fair to say that there are meetings, but the U.S. and the Allies are currently examining a wide-range of options for applying a combination of political and military pressure on Milosevic and the Serbian and (inaudible) authorities in order to bring them into compliance and in order to move both sides towards serious negotiations on a political settlement for Kosovo. The North Atlantic Council is meeting this afternoon to discuss these options and we haven't really yet received any readout from these meetings. And so I won't speculate any further on what options are under discussion, nor on the views of our Allies.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) potential option that Americans will send ground troops in a peacekeeping mission (inaudible)?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think we have said that we would examine that among other options.
QUESTION: Russian Television, Vesti. A question to both ministers. On the eve of the visit, many journalists and experts claimed that one of the main tasks pursued by the U.S. side in this visit is to put some pressure on Moscow in order to get political concessions in exchange for some financial or economic assistance from the U.S. Is this true? How could you comment on these assertions?
FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: I think I will begin, if you don't mind. First of all, I've already said in my introductory remarks that no changes have occurred in the position of our presidents or in the position of our governments. Let me tell you once again that Russia and the U.S. have close strategic interests. The talks on all issues, including the most complex ones, were held in the spirit of such strategic interests.
The Russian leadership has repeatedly stated its commitment to market relations. And we are building a market economy in our country. At the same time a market economy does not mean that we should have a market foreign policy. We do not trade in our national interests. Neither the American or any other side has put the question this way.
The discussion of all problems was held in the spirit of frankness and partnership. I think this is the only way of reaching the agreements we are striving to reach in accordance with our strategic objectives.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me echo what Foreign Minister Ivanov said. First of all, that both of us, on behalf of our countries, agreed that the relationship between our two countries is very important to us both, is the highest priority and that is also evident in the discussions that our presidents have had and in the messages that went back and forth between them via me.
So, I think that there is no doubt about how -- great importance we put on the proper functioning of this relationship and cooperative spirit that is necessary as we deal with the current threats and the opportunities of the 21st century. There is no secret about the fact that we are concerned about the economic situation here in Russia and that we have said, we want to be in a position to help support Russia.
The IMF wants to be in such a position, but it is necessary for there to be an economic program and a budget that is realistic, that provides a sense of confidence to various creditors and that allows Russia to proceed down the road of a market economy. As Foreign Minister Ivanov said, there are a number of issues that are on the table when we talk, and some of them we agree totally and on some of them we disagree partially. But I think that that is in the spirit for two important countries who have their own national interests and it is perfectly proper.
But what I found most interesting out of this visit is that our ability to speak with each other in frankness and friendship about the common problems that we face. And so I think pressure is definitely the wrong word, and I think that the Foreign Minister's response to that is certainly one that I would corroborate.
QUESTION: My question is for Minister Ivanov. So, you said that you have received an explanation of the American position on the missile defense issue. Did you accept that explanation?
FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: As I have already said, the ABM treaty is seen both by us and the United States as a key element in ensuring strategic stability. So, any questions connected with the treaty naturally may give rise to concern or anxiety. We have in fact initiated a discussion on that score today. The American representatives set forth their vision of the issue, spoke about their plans. Our experts, including military representatives, have joined this discussion and we have agreed that considering the importance of the problem, the importance not only for our two parties but for international stability, such consultations and such dialogue will continue. And very soon, at the end of February, an American delegation on strategic stability is due in Moscow and these conversations, these discussions, the exchange of information will continue.
QUESTION: My question is for Ms. Albright. In your brief statement you said that you discussed non-proliferation. The U.S. Administration makes a direct linkage between Russian-American space cooperation and the termination of Russian cooperation with Iran. Was this discussed in the negotiations, and if so, what were the results?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, we spoke about what the United States considers as the problem in terms of transfer of either technology or knowledge to Iran. And as you know, we have sanctioned three entities recently because we are concerned that kind of proliferation that has come up at every one of the meetings that we have had whether at our level or presidential level or the vice-presidents and the prime minister. And this kind of a discussion I think will continue again at Davos when the Prime Minister and Vice-President meet. We believe that it's very important for the Russian government to enforce its export controls and that there needs to be every attempt to control this kind of proliferation because it ultimately is a threat to all of us. And so we did discuss it and we are hoping very much that there will be unilaterally taken action by the Russian government so that we can have greater confidence in how the export legislation works.
QUESTION: CNN. A question for Secretary Albright. Madame Secretary, the overriding feeling here in Moscow seems to be that the United States is either ignoring or dismissing Russia in international issues and decisions. I am sure this was brought up to you in many different settings. But how did you answer that question?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, the proof is in the pudding for me. I am here because we are neither ignoring nor avoiding or dismissing Russia and its views. I have spent a great deal of time even before I got here in telephone conversations with the Foreign Minister and a great deal of mail that goes on between us because we are very concerned and interested in their views on a number of issues and obviously take them into account.
I think it is impossible and would be completely inappropriate for the United States to dismiss the views of a great country such as Russia. We may not agree. That is something different. And it is -- at times such as this we were able to have honest discussions about where our disagreements lie and try to develop mechanisms for helping to resolve them. And so as the Foreign Minister said we have follow-up groups that are going to be discussing various aspects and additional discussions generally will go on.
But I think that no one has ever expected that given our different histories and backgrounds and geographical positions that we would have identical views where our national interests are concerned. And what we, as foreign ministers, do is to seek as often as possible to find areas of agreement, and there are many, and to manage or resolve those areas where we disagree.
But I think to those people who think that we are ignoring Russia's views, I think that is completely incorrect.
QUESTION: Golos Rossii. Judging both from the statements made by the honorable participants in this press conference and from the answers to the questions, both sides describe their talks as constructive and fruitful. I'd like to know what both sides think about future prospects for Russian-U.S. relations. Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: I think the visit by Mrs. Albright has allowed us to synchronize our watches, once again specify our strategic objectives and map out ways of further joint work in the main areas of bilateral cooperation in various fields.
U.S. Vice President Gore and the Russian Prime Minister, Mr. Primakov, are scheduled to meet at the end of this month in Davos. Late in February, as I said, a visit to Russia will be paid by a delegation headed by First Deputy Secretary of State Mr. Talbott to discuss a wide range of questions connected with security, stability. In March there will be a meeting of the Russian-American Commission in the United States, the Commission that is called the Primakov-Gore Commission. Then in Cologne there will be a summit meeting of the Eight. In other words, we will have contacts on the level of foreign ministers, we have a very intense calendar of bilateral relations, bilateral contacts, exchanges. This, without doubt, will make it possible to further discuss in a spirit of partnership the questions that are on the agenda today.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me also add: I think both of us mentioned the fact that we have issued a joint statement on Kosovo today, an issue that is of great importance to both our countries, and I think it is a sign of the fact that we can and do cooperate on issues of mutual interest, that we work them out and have a way of making clear where both countries stand on daily issues.
And I think while it may sound as if there is a great deal of process involved here, I think that that is actually the daily bread of diplomats of how we move our relations closer together. And I am very satisfied that we are on a good road. I know that there are lots of people that are looking for confrontation. There are issues on which we don't agree. And as I said before, that is not unnatural. But I have been very impressed in our discussions in the last two days about our ability to either solve something immediately or to be able to set up a procedure that allows our experts to look at the issues and work through the various problems. I think that is a very appropriate relationship for two mature friends.
QUESTION: My question is to the Russian Foreign Minister. Given the record of Mr. Milosevic in Kosovo so far, how can Russia persuade Mr. Milosevic to perhaps behave differently there?
FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: I think our main task now is -- I mean the international community -- to work out a concrete plan, concrete further steps of political settlement because the current situation, unfortunately, favors various provocations, various actions that can merely complicate the situation. Movement toward political settlement is unfortunately lacking. So the task of the international community now is to work out such a plan, to put it on the negotiating table and to persuade both parties to sit down at the negotiating table and to start concrete discussion on political settlement. Without it, progress on this issue will unfortunately be very complex.
QUESTION: Gornostayev, Nezavisimaya Gazeta. You have just said that our experts started studying the explanations provided by the Americans on the ABM Treaty and that there will be a mission here in February. Are we sure that pending the final resolution of the fate of the ABM, the United States will not make any unilateral actions on the issue?
FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: We diplomats are guided in our work by concrete facts and documents. We have a message from the President of the United States, we have a message from the Vice President which confirm the commitment to the ABM Treaty. All the other issues, as we have discussed with Ms. Albright today, must be discussed. Any possible plans must be agreed and this is what we spoke about. At present it would be premature to speak anything concrete a priori. Any concerns, and we have naturally got concerns, must be presented and discussed in the spirit of frankness and partnership.
Such a discussion is underway and I think this is of fundamental importance to avoid any surprises.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I would like to answer that. I think that in the discussions about the ABM, I made it very clear that we are committed to the ABM Treaty as central to our whole arms control structure. There are, however, new threats in the world that frankly both countries need to consider. I think it is very important that for primarily Russian audience, but also American audience, understand that there has been no deployment decision that would come in the middle of next year at the earliest. And were there a need to deploy and an ability to do so, because of the technology, that would not happen until the year 2005. All that has happened now is that our budget contains money for research and development, and we are going to carry on transparent discussions with the Russians about where we are and the ABM Treaty and we'll be making very clear how this is progressing. And the next steps are, in fact, that the Strategic Stability Group in February will continue the discussion.
But I think it is a big mistake if people believe in some form or another that decisions on deployment have been taken. They have not been taken, and deployment under any circumstances would not happen until 2005 if the threat situation continues and if, in fact, these kinds of systems are feasible; the national missile defense is what I am speaking about. Thank you.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We want to see the continued implementation of the Wye Memorandum. The first phase of that has been implemented, but the second phase in some -- on the Palestinian side, certain parts have been implemented and others have not. And the same is true on the Israeli side. And we are going to keep pressing for the implementation because this was an agreement signed by two parties
that need to be lived up to in their fullest. Thank you.
[End of Document]
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