|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov
Press Availability, Foreign Press Center
Moscow, Russia, January 31, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: [In Russian -- unofficial translation] Dear ladies and gentlemen, we have just completed a very intensive round of negotiations with U.S. Secretary of State Ms. Albright. We have discussed the entire scope of U.S.-Russia relations. I think our negotiations were constructive, honest and useful. They once again have confirmed -- at the highest level -- the readiness of the U.S. and Russia to step up cooperation between the two countries and showed a strengthening of an atmosphere of stability and predictability in our relations.
Together with the Secretary of State, we drafted a schedule of further high-level contacts to take place in the next months. Today we signed an inter-government agreement on technology space launch and a protocol on amendments to the Nuclear Risk Reduction Agreement. We paid special attention to issues of increasing security and stability, including the disarmament process. The main issue here is to act in accordance with the Cologne consultations on START and ABM.
We exchanged ideas on a wide spectrum of international and regional problems -- the Balkans, the Korean peninsula, the Persian Gulf. The situation in Afghanistan also causes serious concern. Of course, we discussed the situation in the Northern Caucasus. We also discussed issues of trade and economic relations between our countries.
You know that the official visit of the U.S. Secretary of State Ms. Albright continues tomorrow when Ms. Alright and I take part in the Middle East Multilateral Steering Group negotiations. By the way, conducting these negotiations is yet another demonstration of the effectiveness of U.S.-Russian cooperation in solving key international problems. The day after tomorrow, the Secretary of State will meet with Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, the Acting President of the Russian Federation.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good afternoon. I am pleased to be here with my friend, Igor Sergeyevich, as the snow continues to chase me from Washington to Davos and now to Moscow.
The Foreign Minister and I were able to cover a great deal of ground today in almost six hours of in-depth talks.
Arms control and nonproliferation figured prominently, including prospects for the new Duma's early ratification of START II and for early steps toward a START III. We also spent considerable time discussing an interest I am convinced is mutual: maintaining the long-standing strategic benefits of the ABM Treaty while also permitting both our countries to answer growing missile threats from unpredictable third countries.
Obviously these are unlikely subjects for one-day miracles. But the stakes are high, and we are determined to seek common ground. Success would make both of our countries safer.
Chechnya is another difficult subject we discussed. No one questions Russia's right to combat insurgency and terror within its borders. But the war in Chechnya has brought a tragic cost in human lives and a high cost to Russia's world standing. Some here may say this is a domestic issue but it has cast a long international shadow.
Over lunch, our delegations covered a range of regional and security issues. We paid particular attention to Nagorno-Karabakh, a hard problem on which Russia and the United States have worked for several years and on which Presidents Kocharian and Aliyev have made some important progress.
On European security, I was encouraged to hear a positive reaction from the Russian side to the idea of reinvigorated ties with NATO. And we had a good review of the situation in Kosovo, where Russian and U.S. troops are serving side by side to give peace the best possible chance.
Finally, I want to say just a word about two agreements we signed this afternoon. The first protects sensitive U.S. satellite technology and underscores our commitment to further aerospace cooperation with Russia.
The second updates and modernizes a 1987 agreement establishing Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers in Moscow and Washington. This mechanism has not generated earth-shattering headlines. But it has worked quietly to help us avoid shattering the earth. And now it will work even better.
As you can see from these agreements, the weather in Moscow may be frozen, but the ability of the United States and Russia to achieve progress on important issues clearly is not. And I am looking forward to further meetings in the same spirit with Foreign Minister Ivanov -- and of course with Acting President Putin -- in the two days to come and as the Foreign Minister described we also will be having very important meetings on the multilateral track of the Middle East peace process and we look forward to progress on that also.
QUESTION: [In Russian - unofficial translation] In her speech, Ms. Albright mentioned you had six hour-negotiations on ABM. Is there any movement toward each other in this area?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, let me begin, first of all I think that the whole issue of where we are is to try to come to some common understanding of the nature of the threat that we see coming from the unpredictable nations and I can testify to the fact that it is not easy to come to a common ground on this. We do have a different view. We will continue to pursue this discussion because, representing the United States, we feel very strongly that there is a threat not only to us, but to Russia and other counties. That we are concerned about that as we look at adjustments to the ABM Treaty which would be necessary if we were to go forward with a national missile defense.
We continue to talk on the basis of an agreement that was reached between our heads of state in Cologne where it was decided that offensive and defensive questions would be discussed as a package and so we continue to have this discussion. It will continue at a variety of levels and I am hopeful because we have successfully dealt with these issues in the past that we will come to a common understanding.
FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: [In Russian - unofficial translation] I would like to add that, based on the Cologne agreements between our presidents, we will have quite an open dialogue on ABM and START issues this month. This dialogue should be open because it covers the essence of the strategic stability on which the whole world/peace (the Russian word mir was said here) has been standing during the last several decades.
We honestly said to our American partners that their suggestions to amend the ABM treaty could ruin this agreement. It would be a grave mistake, since this agreement is the foundation for the whole structure of the security system. We are sure that, together, we can find other responses to the threats that may come from other countries. We are open to this dialogue and, in fact, are conducting it now.
At the same time, we think it necessary to move ahead with strategic arms reduction. The Russian Government has confirmed it intends to reach the START II ratification. We also think it is necessary to intensify work on defining the parameters of the START III treaty. We should look for other opportunities that will allow us to establish strict control over rocket technologies. In other words, we will extend constructive cooperation that will not harm what we have done so far and will help further strengthen strategic stability. This is how we will conduct our future relations with the United States.
QUESTION: Both governments seem to be serious in their intention to reduce their remaining arsenals of long-range nuclear warheads, but the momentum that the people who care about arms control were so happy to see only a few years ago, particularly under Mr. Gorbachev, seems to have evaporated. What in your opinion is the cause of this slowdown? Is it the U.S. space weapons aspiration? What is doing it? Or is there less trust and less cooperation than one would think there used to be in reducing those arsenals?
FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: [In Russian - unofficial translation] First of all, the negotiations on START II, they were quite difficult but they are over. (Problem with the microphone.)
(In English) I'm waiting for you.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: He just wants to ask the questions, he doesn't want to answer them.
FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: [In Russian - unofficial translation] You remember quite well the negotiations on START II -- I will not list specific dates. The negotiations were difficult, though they ended with serious results. Unfortunately, for some objective reasons, START II has been ratified neither in Russia nor in the U.S. As you know and understand, without ratifying and starting to implement the START II, further reduction is just impossible.
We understanding the importance of further arms reduction and, despite the fact that START II has not been ratified in Russia nor in the U.S., our presidents in Cologne agreed to start consultations on START III and ABM -- treaties that will dramatically reduce the nuclear arsenals of both countries.
These consultations are going on now, so the sooner we, in our own countries, achieve the ratification of the START II, the earlier we will be able to start negotiations and practical realization of the next step, START III.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: If I could just add here, I think that the Foreign Minister has made very clear the relationship of these various pieces of arms control discussions and I am very pleased to hear him say how important the ratification of START II is, that will allow us to go forward on START III that is being discussed on the basis of an agreement that our leaders made in Helsinki on numbers that were from 2000 to 2500 and those are the basis of the discussions and obviously we're interested in whatever suggestions will be coming as we get into serious negotiations on that.
And again to repeat, as I have said and he has said, the agreements reached in Cologne that put the offensive and defensive packages together for discussion, I think that's an important aspect of understanding the process that is taking place on arms control discussions at this time.
QUESTION: I would like to ask you what the plans are to deal with the journalist, Mr. Babitskiy, who as you know is an employee of Radio Liberty and is in jail in Chechnya, are there plans to charge him, free him, what are the plans? And on the second question to Minister Ivanov, what does the Foreign Ministry think it can do to persuade the government security services to release the archives that American and western European scholars still believe are here but (inaccessible) on the case of Raoul Wallenberg?
FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: [In Russian - unofficial translation] As for Mr. Babitskiy, this case is under the control of the Acting President of the Russian Federation. A representative of the General Procuracy has left for the Northern Caucasus to clarify the details of Babitskiy's detention, and as soon as we receive this report we will let you know the details. I have nothing to add to what I have said.
As for the archive information and accessing the archives, we will follow the existing law.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Can I just add on Mr. Babitskiy, we believe that it's very important that it be established that those journalists who have a desire to cover what is going on in Chechnya should be allowed to do so and that freedom of the press is very important in this situation as in others.
FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: [In Russian - unofficial translation] I would like to add only that, as you know, a large number of journalists, including accredited and foreign ones, actively work in the North Caucasus. A lot of information they present, from our point view, is not objective, though none of the foreign journalists were refused accreditation.
QUESTION: Ms. Albright, before your visit you said the United States is attentively following the election campaign for the Iranian Parliament and that the political dialogue between Washington and Tehran depends on the results of the elections in Iran. What results do you expect and how could they influence the political dialogue between the United States and Iran on the situation in the Persian Gulf and relations between Washington and Moscow?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say that we are in fact closely following what will happen in the Majlis elections and it depends frankly how freely those elections are able to take place. What was so interesting in the original election of President Khatemi was that we noted that he had been elected by large numbers of people that -- students, younger people, women, a group of people who clearly for their own reasons believe that it is important to have increasing reforms within the Iranian system.
It is very hard for me to predict how the elections will come out but we are following them very closely. Let me say again that we have followed closely the statements of President Khatemi and Foreign Minister Kharazi and have tried in various ways to respond to some of the points that they have made. We also have made clear that we are prepared to have a dialogue with the Iranian government on all issues of concern and believe that it could happen if they were willing to discuss all the issues of concern.
Second, however we do continue to point out that Iran continues to support terrorists, that they seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and that they do not support the Middle East peace process. These are the kinds of problems that make it very difficult for us to begin to think about roadmaps for a different relationship. But we are waiting to see what comes out of the Majlis election.
QUESTION: (inaudible) a North Korean delegation will be visiting Washington. I wondered, a question for both of you, if there is (inaudible) North Korea, what implications would that have for your negotiations on arms control?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, let me begin with this: there has been confirmation of the fact that the North Koreans are going to be sending a high level envoy to Washington in March. Ambassador Kartman is finalizing some of the preparations for that visit and I think in many ways it is analogous to the visit that Dr. Perry paid to North Korea. And also really we hope follows up on some of the suggestions that were made by that review process.
I think that it will be very important to see whether there is real progress in lessening the North Korean missile threat and the proliferation of missiles and whether they will be stopping the support for terrorism. It will obviously, to answer your question on the implications, it will have a great deal to do as to whether there will be stability in the Korean Peninsula. And we also obviously need to know what the effect of this is going to be in terms of their desire to try to acquire nuclear weapons.
I would see this visit as an important, modest step and we will have to judge it one step at a time exactly. But for now the fact that this visit has been confirmed I think will have very useful application and implications for various parts of our dialog or attempted dialog with them in order to deal with the problems of proliferation of missiles as well as nuclear programs.
FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: [In Russian - unofficial translation] I would like to inform you that on February 8 I will visit North Korea and sign an agreement on friendship and cooperation between our countries. We will discuss international issues and issues of security on the Korean Peninsula.
To answer your question, we are taking these circumstances into account, but they are not most important in our negotiations on the START and ABM treaties.
QUESTION: [In Russian - unofficial translation] First, our military told us many times that in Chechnya they conduct high-precision bombing on Chechen fighters only. The West, including the United States, always expressed concern about the scale and the disproportionate manner of the use of force. Does this mean they mistrust the military reports or do you think that high-precision bombing itself is inadequate in this situation? Have you become less concerned about the situation in Chechnya? Could you provide preliminary dates of a future visit of President Clinton to Russia?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all let me say that we have made quite clear that we think that there has been an incredible amount of misery injected upon civilian population of Chechnya, both militarily and also because of the creation of so many refugees and the humanitarian situation is very bad and that in order to deal with what is clearly a problem of terrorism that there has been excessive force used and civilians have been, I think, indiscriminately targeted in a way that has broadened and widened the problem.
We have made that quite clear and for that reason have stated many times to the Russians that we believe that there is no military solution to the Chechnya problem. We support the territorial integrity of Russia but we don't think that this can be resolved militarily and that political dialog is very important. As for-- and we did discuss this today and I think that we have differences of opinion, obviously, on Chechnya, but I did make clear to the Foreign Minister that it was my sense that Russia was paying a toll internationally for its actions and was being increasingly isolated as has been evidenced from a number of statements made by Foreign Ministers of other countries.
As for a Clinton visit or meeting, let me say that we have considered it highly important for there to be contact at all levels between Russian and American officials. Foreign Minister Ivanov and I talk to each other on the phone often more than once a week and stay in very close contact. President Clinton obviously had an excellent relationship with President Yeltsin. He has met with Acting President Putin before he became Acting President as Prime Minister in Auckland and in Oslo and they have corresponded and the President is prepared to obviously carry on dialog and he will be prepared to meet with the new President of Russia.
FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: [In Russian - unofficial Translation] . . . only humanitarian, we have been talking about it at the European Council session and with the OSCE. They could actively participate in the process of rebuilding the democratic institutions in Chechnya and preparing for the parliamentary election campaign and so on. I think this openness, and our further cooperation, will contribute to a better understanding of what happened and what we are trying to achieve there. So, I think talks about isolating (Russia) would be unjustified. In any case, if isolation exists to some extent, it has a temporary nature.
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