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Russia: U.S.-China Summit Touches On Trilateral Relations

Washington, 30 October 1997 (RFE/RL)--The China-U.S. summit in Washington was very much focused on building a new, more constructive relationship between two of the world's largest countries going into the next century. But while Russia was not a participant, it was frequently mentioned.

Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen told a press conference late yesterday that Beijing is developing strategic partnerships with all major countries in the world, especially the U.S. and Russia.

China and Russia share "a very long border line" and have "many favorable conditions" for cooperation. But in its dozens of areas of strategic partnership, Qian said, the Chinese and Russian relationship "is not directed against any third country."

Chinese President Jiang Zemin and U.S. President Bill Clinton were asked about this as well at a joint press conference following their summit.

Jiang said there was "no contradiction" between China having strategic relationships with both the U.S. and Russia. He called both Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin "old friends," and said he still remembered when the three of them met in Moscow in 1995.

"We should all commit ourselves to building a peaceful and beautiful new century," he commented.

Clinton went more to the heart of the real question. "During the cold war, we were all three suspicious of each other and we tried to play each other off against the other," he told reporters, as laughter erupted around the room.

"When Russia fought with China, argued with China," said Clinton, "we were happy."

But now, said the American president, all three must look to the future. "Russia has a strong democracy, it's economy is coming back and we are working with Russia in Bosnia and in other places around the world," he said.

Russia is the largest land mass country in the world -- a rich nation that is both European and Asian, said Clinton. "Both China and the U.S. should have good relations with Russia, and then the three of us should work together on matters of common concern."

"This is not the cold war," he said. "We need to be looking to the future and a different set of relations."