Helsinki, 21 March 1997 (RFE/RL) -- The United States and Russia ended their Helsinki summit today without agreement on the controversial issue of NATO's eastward expansion. In a joint statement issued after the summit talks between U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Clinton said he had reaffirmed that NATO enlargement will proceed at the Alliance's Madrid summit in July. Clinton said Yeltsin had made clear he thinks the enlargement plan is a mistake.
Yeltsin said he feared a potentially threatening build-up of Western combat forces near Russia's borders. But he welcomed Clinton's attempts to ease Russia's concerns. Clinton stressed NATO had no intention or reason to deploy nuclear weapons on territory of states that are not now NATO members. They agreed to work on creating a new, enduring security system between NATO and Russia.
At a joint news conference, Clinton also said Yeltsin agreed to secure passage of the START II strategic arms reduction treaty in the Russian Duma. But Clinton said it would not stop there and said Yeltsin had agreed on START III guidelines too.
Clinton also said that Russia will be granted a greatly expanded role in the G-7 group of industrialized countries at its next summit in the Western U.S. city of Denver in June. Clinton said it would be "a group of eight meeting." The two leaders also committed themselves to joint initiatives to stimulate investment and economic growth in Russia and deepen Russia's integration into world markets.