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Russia: Yeltsin Asks Primakov To Draft NATO Action Plan

Moscow, 6 January 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Russian President Boris Yeltsin has asked his foreign minister, Yevgeny Primakov, to draw up a "plan of action" to counter the future eastward expansion of NATO.

The order came today after a top-level meeting at the Kremlin between Yeltsin, Primakov, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, Presidential Chief-of-Staff Anatoly Chubais, Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin, Defense Minister Igor Rodionov, and other top security and defense officials.

Yeltsin's Press Secretary Sergei Yastrzhembsky said the meeting confirmed that the "entire Russian political leadership is opposed to NATO's eastward expansion."

Yastrzhembsky said the leaders discussed ways to cooperate with NATO, but also how to respond if the alliance goes ahead with its plans to take in members of the former Warsaw Pact. He said Yeltsin ordered the foreign ministry to develop a flexible response to various NATO enlargement scenarios.

Yeltsin reportedly called today's meeting after weekend talks with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl produced no breakthrough on the topic. Yastrzhembsky said both Yeltsin and Kohl had agreed Russia-NATO relations will be "issue number one" in international relations this year. But he said progress on the issue had been insignificant.

German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said today his country wants Russia "as a friend and partner in Europe." He said NATO must solidify its expansion plans at its summit in Madrid this July.