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Christopher Arrives In Moscow

Moscow, March 21 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher has arrived in Moscow at the start of two days of talks with top Russian officials on a wide range of bilateral issues.

He was greeted on arrival today by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Georgi Mamedov. This afternoon Christopher plans to meet NATO Secretary General Javier Solana to get a report on his talks with Russian leaders on NATO expansion plans.

U.S. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns says that tonight Christopher has been invited to dine with Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeni Primakov . He said this would be a private dinner to go over the agenda for tomorrow's talks.

Burns said the two sides will have a comprehensive discussion of all major issues. the topics to be raised will include preparations for next month's international summit on international safety and cooperation between Russia and the U.S. in NATO peacekeeping operations in Bosnia. They will also discuss the situation in Bosnia ahead of Saturday's conference of the five-nation Contact Group with Balkan foreign ministers which is being hosted by Moscow for the first time.

The U.S-Russian delegation will also discuss armament issues including prospcts for ratification by the Russian Duma of the START II nuclear weapons reduction treaty.

Burns says international terrorism is another discussion topic as well as U.S. and Russian shared interests on international issues including the Middle East peace process and efforts to end the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Burns said that on all these issues the two sides share common goals but they have differences over NATO expansion, Russian arms sales to the Middle East and the war in breakaway republic of Chechnya. Burns said these topics too will be on the agenda.

Christopher is scheduled tomorrow to meet President Boris Yeltsin in the Kremlin. The Russian and U.S. delegations will then have a working lunch followed by a plenary session. Later tomorrow, Christopher plans to host a gathering of Russian politicians, including political party leaders, presidential candidates for Russia's June 16 election and representatives of the Russian Duma and Federation Council.