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Washington Journal: Talbott Defends Clinton Team On Russian Corruption

Washington, 24 September 1999 (RFE/RL) -- A senior U.S. State Department official has told a Congressional committee that the administration of President Bill Clinton has closely monitored the problem of corruption in Russia.

Strobe Talbott, the deputy secretary of state in charge of Russian affairs, testified Thursday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

He said: "The issue of corruption has been very much on the agenda of U.S.-Russian relations at all levels, including at the level of President Clinton with President Yeltsin, and certainly including at the level of Vice President Gore and former Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, for quite a number of years."

Vice President Al Gore, who hopes to be elected president next year, has been accused by his political opponents of ignoring suspected financial wrongdoing in Russia.

Until recently, Gore has campaigned for president in part by citing his involvement in United States-Russia policy. In particular, he has mentioned his work on the American-Russian Commission with former Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin.

The New York Times newspaper reported recently that in 1995, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported to Gore on suspected corruption by Chernomyrdin, and that the vice president dismissed the agency's finding.

Talbott was asked about the Times report at yesterday's hearing, but said he could not comment publicly about intelligence matters.