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Russia: Yeltsin Says He Won't Seek Third Term

Strasbourg, 9 October 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin says he has no intention of seeking re-election in the year 2000. Speaking this afternoon in Strasbourg, France, Yeltsin told reporters he would not "present his candidacy for a third term."

The Russian constitution limits presidents to two terms in office, but Kremlin aides have argued that since Yeltsin was originally elected under the old Soviet constitution, he would not be held to the limit.

Yeltsin said that as a guarantor of the Russian constitution, he must set an example and serve only two terms.

Yeltsin is due to meet later today with France's President Jacques Chirac to discuss the Council of Europe's role and French-Russian relations.

Tomorrow Yeltsin will address the two-day summit, which is expected to bring together leaders from the Council of Europe's 40-member states. A Yeltsin aide, Sergei Prikhodko, earlier today said that in his address Yeltsin plans to stress Russia's role in Europe and the need for Russia to be integrated into European democratic structures.

Itar-Tass quoted Yeltsin yesterday as calling for an "integrated Greater Europe" free of dividing lines. He said "Europe without Russia is not Europe," adding that with Russia, Europe "has no equal on the globe."

Prikhodko also said Yeltsin could include more bilateral meetings in his Strasbourg agenda. Yeltsin is due to return to Russia on Friday.

A French presidential spokeswoman was quoted yesterday as saying that 25 presidents and 19 prime ministers are expected to attend the two-day gathering.

The Council was established in 1949 to promote democracy and human rights.