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Russia: Dutch Considering Expanding Yeltsin's Visit To EU

Prague, 8 January 1997 (RFE/RL) -- The Dutch Presidency of the European Union is working on expanding Russian President Boris Yeltsin's planned visit to the Hague early next month.

Dutch officials told our correspondent today that their government currently is considering a two-day visit rather than a single day, as previously announced. They said Yeltsin could meet other EU leaders as well as with Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok and EU Executive Commission President Jacques Santer.

The officials said it is traditional for foreign leaders visiting the EU to meet the 15-nation group's "troika" -- that is, with the Union's former and future presidents as well as its current president. In Yeltsin's case, that would mean meeting the Irish and Luxembourg prime ministers as well as their Dutch counterpart. EU member countries hold the organization's revolving presidency for six-month periods.

The Dutch officials also said it was quite possible that Yeltsin and EU leaders would be invited to dine formally with Queen Beatrice on the first evening of his visit. They said that would be appropriate because Yeltsin, like the Queen, is a head of state.

In telephone talks with RFE/RL's correspondent, the officials emphasized that no formal agenda for the visit had yet been proposed by the Dutch Government, or agreed upon by Yeltsin.

But they also said that an expanded visit would be more effective in developing the "political dialogue" between the EU and Russia envisaged in the June 1994 cooperation agreement signed by Moscow and the Union. That agreement calls for placing "human rights and the democratic process at the center of relations" between the signatories.