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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal   Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov

Press availability prior to their bilateral meeting
Berlin, Germany, December 17, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Blue Line

QUESTION: (In Russian -- not translated)

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me first of all say that we have all along said that the ABM Treaty is the keystone of the disarmament structure that we have had and we have valued having that treaty. We, however, believe that the situation has changed in terms of threat and while the United States has made no decision as yet on national missile defense, we believe that if such a system is put into place, that because of the new threats, it may be necessary to have changes in the ABM Treaty. The ABM Treaty has been changed before and nothing, however, changes our basic belief in the centrality of the ABM Treaty.

QUESTION: You have heard a lot of verbal criticism from the rest of the G-8 today. Is it going to make a single bit of difference to any action Russia and its military take in Chechnya?

MINISTER IVANOV: Today we had a detailed exchange of views on the situation in the northern Caucasus, including taking into account the report made by Minister Vollebaek who has just returned from the region.

My G-8 colleagues made their views known regarding the ways and means of settlement in the region. We are not talking here about criticism of one party by other parties. The situation is complicated and there are no simple solutions to it. We are attentive and are listening to the opinions of our partners and a trip organized for Minister Vollebaek to visit four republics of the northern Caucasus is a testimony to such an attitude. At the same time, we have our own point of view on this issue. On some questions our opinions coincide, on some they diverge, but what is important in this connection is that it was stated that such differences should not lead to our, shall we say, growing further apart from each other. We shall continue an active dialogue. We are not trying to avoid such a dialogue.

QUESTION: -- were saying that you are increasingly isolated and feel this isolation. Is that true or is this wishful thinking on their part?

MINISTER IVANOV: I have never felt isolated amongst my colleagues in the G-8. A person who avoids meetings, contacts, dialogue may feel isolated. This is not the first issue that we discussed within the G-8.

QUESTION: (In Russian -- not translated)

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: (inaudible)… we are certainly capable of dealing with more than one issue at the same time. This is what we do for a living and I think that the Chechnya issue is obviously very serious and the Foreign Minister and I will be talking about that because I do think that Russia is -- whether the Foreign Minister feels personally isolated, he is not, because we all respect him a great deal -- but I think there are questions about how Russia is dealing with this serious problem which is creating problems generally, I think, for Russia’s relationship with the other major powers.

I do believe, to answer your question more specifically, that we can deal with Kosovo, we are dealing with Kosovo. There are improvements there. The provisional government in Kosovo has been dissolved and they are now a part of an administrative council. There is movement forward on the legal structure. We want to see additional action by UNMIK, to do its job. We talked today within the G-8 about making sure that additional funds go to managing the Kosovo issue. So there is no reason why we can’t handle two very important issues.

Let me say one last thing. There is not a comparison between Kosovo and Chechnya. These are two very different kinds of problems.

Thank you.

[End of Document]
Blue Line

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