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NATO/Russia: UN Secretary General Welcomes Accord

Moscow, 15 May 1997 (RFE/RL) - United Nations' Secretary General Kofi Annan today welcomed an agreement on future partnership between Russia and NATO. Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Russian upper house speaker Yegor Stroyev, Annan expressed the hope that the agreement will become an inalienable element of a new European security structure. The agreement was reached yesterday in talks between Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Premakov and NATO's Secretary General Javier Solana. Both sides have called the agreement a historic step toward a peaceful Europe. The text of the agreement was not released. U.S. President Bill Clinton says it would not give Russia veto power over NATO decisions.

Later today Annan met separately with Primakov and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin.

Itar-tass says that Chernomyrdin qualified Russia's relations with the UN as "normal" and assured Annan Russia will pay its dues to the world organization regardless of the economic problems it is currently facing.

At a news conference after the meeting with Primakov Annan said that a broad spectrum issues had been discussed, including relations between the UN and the CIS and the role of the UN in Tajikistan, Georgia and Afghanistan.

Also today, the Kremlin press service says Russian President Boris Yeltsin and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl expressed their satisfaction with results of the latest round of talks between Russia and NATO.

The press service, cited by Itar-tass, said that in a phone conversation today the two leaders praised the agreement that was reached at the talks as a balanced document, taking into account the interests of both sides.

In Washington yesterday, the U.S. State Department said U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Russian Defense Minister Igor Rodionov had an excellent meeting.

Rodinov was concluding the Washington portion of his U.S. visit. He is traveling to the Pacific Ocean state of Hawaii for a tour of U.S. military bases.

Spokesman Nicholas Burns said Albright and Rodionov discussed the agreement in Moscow between Russia and the NATO alliance that will outline relations between Russia and NATO as the alliance prepares to expand into Central and Eastern Europe.

Rodionov, who has said NATO expansion is a mistake, called today's agreement a good compromise.

Burns says Albright and Rodionov also discussed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, called START Two, with Albright telling Rodionov that the United States hopes the Russian parliament will ratify the agreement soon. She said ratification will lead to new agreements that will reduce the nuclear stockpiles of both nations even further.