President Bush met Friday with President Arnold Ruutel of Estonia and said that good-faith negotiations were the only way to resolve the standoff between Moscow and the independence-minded Baltic states.
Bush reiterated his unequivocal support for Estonia's right to self-determination and expressed outrage over the Soviets' use of force in Vilnius and Riga in January, a White House statement said.The meeting in the Oval Office was the fifth time that Bush has held talks with a Baltic leader since May 1990. Ruutel is in the United States on a private visit.
The White House said Bush "emphasized his conviction that the only solution to this situation (in the Baltics) was good-faith negotiations between the Baltic states and Moscow. He assured Ruutel that he had personally made this point to President (Mikhail S.) Gorbachev on many occasions."
Ruutel, talking with reporters later in the White House driveway, said Gorbachev's political survival depends on whether he will support democratic changes.
"Certainly, the situation today is very complex, because it is not that easy to change the totalitarian system, . . . which the Soviet Union has had for 70 years, into something else," Ruutel said.
"But what must not happen is the use of force in these days, as was the case in the Baltics in January," he added. "The restraint from the use of force must apply to any part of the Soviet Union. What is necessary is to listen to what the people are saying, and then, based on that, to make the necessary decisions."