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Russia: Yeltsin Says Helsinki Summit Will Be Hardest In History

Moscow, 14 March 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Russian President Boris Yeltsin says next week's negotiations with U.S. President Bill Clinton will be the hardest in the history of Russian-U.S. relations. But he adds he is ready for compromise.

Interfax news agency quotes Yeltsin as telling Russian media chiefs that he and Clinton might not reach an agreement on NATO's planned expansion.

Yeltsin and Clinton are due to meet next week in Helsinki, Finland. The summit is expected to be dominated by the row over NATO's expansion eastward.Russia strongly opposes enlargement and says it would threaten its security.

Yeltsin says the Russian leadership's position is well known. He says compromise will be possible at the summit. However, Yeltsin says Russia does not intend to make compromises that would weaken the country's defense capability.