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Russia: Yeltsin Criticizes U.S. Missile Strikes; Summit Still On

Moscow, 21 August 1998 (RFE/RL) - Russian officials and U.S. diplomats made clear today that a U.S.-Russia summit will go ahead early next month, despite Russian President Boris Yeltsin's criticism of yesterday's U.S. missile strikes in Afghanistan and Sudan. Yeltsin, upon arival today in the Arctic port city of Murmansk, told reporters he was "outraged" by the U.S. air strikes. Yeltsin complained that U.S. President Bill Clinton had not warned him in advance of the strikes. Yeltsin's spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky, however, later said Russia and the U.S. were "in the same boat" in the fight against terrorism and will continue coordinating their efforts.

A U.S. embassy spokesman in Moscow said preparations for the summit had not been affected by Yeltsin's remarks. Interfax news agency quoted Russian officials as saying the summit on September 1-3 in Moscow remained on schedule.

Yeltsin, who watched military exercises of Russia's Northern Fleet, later today left Murmansk for Moscow. Yastrzhembsky said Yeltsin, who had been vacationing since mid-July, officially returned to work yesterday.

Meanwhile, Pakistan said today that one of the missiles the United States aimed at suspected terrorist bases in neighboring Afghanistan landed on its soil, killing at least five peole.

A Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman said Islamabad has lodged a protest with the U.S. over the incident. The spokesman said a U.S. diplomat told Pakistan the casualties may have been the result of a technical error. Up to now Pakistan has assisted the U.S. in its investigation of the U.S. embassy bombings in East Africa by handing over, within a few days of the bombings, a suspect picked up at Karachi airport.

U.S. President Bill Clinton said the simultaneous U.S. strikes in Afghanistan and Sudan yesterday were in retribution for the U.S. embassy bombings two weeks ago, in which more than 250 people died. Clinton said compelling intelligence information had linked the embassy attacks to Saudi-born millionaire Osama bin Laden. Clinton said bin Laden was a financial backer of both the Afghan and Sudanese targets. Clinton said the military attacks were also designed to thwart plans for alleged new terrorist attacks.

America's allies have generally expressed support for the U.S. attacks. U.S. foes Iran, Iraq, and Libya have condemned the strikes.