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Russia: Yeltsin Unveils Foreign Policy Goals

Moscow, 12 May 1998 (RFE/RL) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin today unveiled his country's top foreign policy aims -- and said Russia must conduct a "dynamic" foreign policy -- in a nearly hour-long speech to Russian diplomats at the foreign ministry in Moscow. Russian news agencies quote Yeltsin as saying the aims include preserving Russia's territorial integrity, providing for national security, democratizing society, carrying out reforms, and integrating the economy into the world market.

"The long discussion about our foreign policy priorities is over at last," he said.

Yeltsin said ratification of the START-Two nuclear disarmament treaty is a top priority. START-Two, which provides for a two-thirds reduction in nuclear arsenals, was ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1996 but has been blocked by Duma opposition deputies, who say the accord puts Russia at a disadvantage.

Yeltsin is expected to discuss disarmament issues later this week when he meets with U.S. President Bill Clinton on the sidelines of a summit of the seven leading industrial nations plus Russia in Birmingham, England.

Yeltsin said relations with the United States had passed beyond an initial period of illusions and heightened expectations and were now firmly based on mutual respect.

Also today Gennady Seleznyov, the chairman of Russia's State Duma (the lower house of parliament), told a press conference that the new cabinet of Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko will likely face a decisive moment this autumn.

Seleznyov said no faction in the State Duma was likely to move a no-confidence motion in the new government before the summer recess and that Duma deputies would assess government efforts in mid-September after the recess. Seleznyov said that by October, it should be clear whether Kiriyenko's cabinet will continue governing, or hand over power.