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Russia/US: Clinton Says Russia Wants Special NATO Charter

Washington, 20 March 1997 (RFE/RL) - U.S. President Bill Clinton says he believes that neither Russia nor anyone else should be excluded from membership in NATO.

But Clinton told reporters at the White House yesterday that Russia would probably prefer a special charter between it and NATO and that that is what is being negotiated now.

Clinton spoke shortly before he was scheduled to depart for Helsinki for meetings with Russian President Boris Yeltsin. The summit starts tomorrow.

Clinton said he and Yeltsin will focus on building an undivided, democratic Europe that is at peace. He said they will also discuss arms reductions and expanding economic partnership that is good for America and Russia alike.

Clinton spoke of adopting NATO to take on new missions, enlarging it to take in new members and, in his words, "seeking to build a robust partnership" between NATO and Russia.

He said NATO and Russia should consult regularly and should act jointly whenever possible just as they are doing now in Bosnia.