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Russia: Yeltsin Hails Helsinki Summit

Moscow, 26 March 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin today hailed the results of last week's summit meeting with U.S. President Bill Clinton, saying he came away convinced Russian security would not be threatened by NATO's expansion. In remarks made today in a nationwide radio address, Yeltsin acknowledged that he had been unable to persuade Clinton that NATO's planned expansion was a mistake. But he said Russia made important gains.

Yeltsin said these included a pledge not to move nuclear weapons onto the territory of new mmebers, as well as a binding document on relations between NATO and Russia.

Yeltsin also said Clinton had made concessions on anti-ballistic missile defense systems and that Russia, "will become a full member" of the Group of Seven leading industrial nations.

While, he said, the issue of NATO's expansion was a top Russian foreign policy issue, he added furthering ties with members of the CIS as well as China and India were also important foreign policy prorities.

U.S. President Bill Clinton said yesterday that his meeting with Russian President Boris Yeltsin in Helsinki last week was good for the United States and for the people of Russia.

Clinton took the opportunity to make the comment during a White House event on a domestic matter -- announcing measures to eliminate fraud in health care for American people.

Clinton said the summit was remarkable not only because of the progress made on NATO expansion but especially on the commitment both sides made to reduce U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals by 80 percent within decades. He said Helsinki was a good meeting.

Meanwhile, Russia's Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin announced today new appointments to his reshuffled cabinet and pledged to revive the country's economy.

At a joint news conference with his two first deputies, Anatoly Chubais and Boris Nemtsov, Chernomyrdin appealed for calm on the eve of a nationwide day of protest and said the government is paying 11.8 trillion roubles $2.1 billion in wage arrears in March alone.

The news conference followed a meeting, which included Chernomyrdin, his first deputies and President Boris Yeltsin.

Chernomyrdin said the immediate task of the government was to bring about economic growth and revive investment. Chernomyrdin also said former economy minister Yevgeny Yasin would become a minister without portfolio in charge of economic issues.

Chernomyrdin said Alexei Kudrin, an ally of first deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais, was appointed first deputy Finance Minister. Chubais himself holds the finance portfolio.

Chubais said revenue was "Russia's hottest and most acute problem at the moment." He said deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov would retain day-to day charge of Russia's tax and customs services, but policy making in the tax and customs services would be the responsibility of another deputy Prime Minister, Alfred Koch.

Boris Nemtsov told the news conference Yeltsin had promised in three days to sign a draft decree fighting corruption. He also said Yeltsin has banned the buying of foreign cars at state expense for state officials.