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Russia: Yeltsin Praises Reformers; Criticizes U.S.

Oryol, Russia; 18 September 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Russian President Boris Yeltsin, on a one-day trip to Western Russia, today praised his team of young reformers in the government for negotiating a deal with the Paris Club of creditor nations yesterday. He also accused the United States of wielding too much influence in Europe.

During a visit to the agricultural region of Oryol, southwest of Moscow, Yeltsin said much remained to be done for Russia's economic recovery. But membership in the Paris Club is expected to help Russia recover some of the debts of former Soviet Union client states.

Deputy finance minister Mikhail Kasyanov said today that Russia is owed $112.7 billion by other countries.

Yeltsin also said Russia would no longer need International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans after 1999. Russia agreed to a three-year, $10 billion loan with the IMF last year to bankroll economic reforms.

Turning to foreign policy issues, Yeltsin accused the United States of wielding too much influence in Europe. Yeltsin said he would tell the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, next month, that the U.S. should leave Europe take care of its own security. The Russian government meanwhile announced today that Yeltsin will meet with U.S. Vice President Al Gore in Moscow next week.

On an upcoming meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, Yeltsin said that Russia's territorial dispute with Japan over the Russian-held Kuril Islands was unlikely to be solved this century.