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Russia: Albright Starts Talks In Moscow

Moscow, 1 May 1997 (RFE/RL) - U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright began talks in Moscow today with Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov aimed at narrowing differences over a planned NATO-Russia charter.

ITAR-TASS news agency reports that the talks are being held at the foreign ministry's residence.

It is not clear whether Albright will see President Boris Yeltsin, who cut short his holiday because of bad weather yesterday and returned to Moscow.

Our correspondent in Washington quotes U.S. officials as saying Albright will press positions on the charter laid out by NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana. Solana is the chief negotiator on the document. Both he and Albright have rejected Russia's demands for formal treaty guarantees on security and a ban on nuclear weapons deployment and facilities on the territories of new NATO members.

Albright is also expected to use her one-day visit to Moscow to discuss proposed changes to the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty that Russia has linked to NATO expansion and not yet approved.

Russia remains opposed to NATO expansion but Yeltsin has said he believes NATO and Moscow can sign an agreement in Paris on May 27 to ease Russian concerns. That would be just a few weeks before NATO announces at its July meeting in Madrid which Eastern and Central European countries will be the first to be invited to join the expanded alliance. But U.S. officials say the differences are still substantial and doubt they can be overcome by that date.