Facebook Twitter

ARMS ACCORD CAPS BUSH-YELTSIN SUMMIT

SHARE ARMS ACCORD CAPS BUSH-YELTSIN SUMMIT

President Bush and Boris Yeltsin concluded their summit Thursday, capped by a sweeping arms accord and fresh congressional support for Russian economic aid. Yeltsin said he and Bush had achieved "too many accomplishments to list in a minute."

Before departing for Kansas, Yeltsin and his wife Naina shared morning tea with Bush and his wife Barbara, then posed for final pictures.The Russian leader made the brief stop at the White House after holding talks with Bill Clinton, the Democrats' nominee-to-be.

Yeltsin praised the Arkansas governor as a "fighter against bureaucracy" who "is in favor of active cooperation with Russia."

Clinton, emerging from the 30-minute meeting at Blair House, the official U.S. guesthouse, in turn lauded Yeltsin as a man who represents "a fundamental departure from anything we have ever seen in Russia - a spirit of real democracy, real change, real grass-roots, commitment to market economics. I think we have a very great interest in seeing that that experiment succeeds and becomes permanent and irreversible."

Clinton said "there was no discussion of American domestic politics in any way."

Yeltsin was visiting a Kansas farm, a meat processing plant and Wichita State University on Thursday before heading to Canada.

Yeltsin scored political points with his speech Wednesday to a joint meeting of Congress in which he implored lawmakers to support a $24 billion Western aid package for Russia and the other republics of the former Soviet Union.

"He said everything Americans want to hear," said Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee that oversees policy toward the former Soviet bloc.

Hamilton called Yeltsin's speech "a command performance," and said Yeltsin "has probably changed the momentum" on prospects for congressional support of the package.

"Previously it really had been stalled. I would expect it now to move forward," Hamilton said.

It was a good day for U.S.-Soviet relations all around. Bush granted Russia most-favored nation trade status, and the two leaders cemented several accords - the most dramatic a sweeping arms reduction deal.

In addition, Yeltsin pledged anew to spare no effort in seeking out American prisoners of war missing during the Cold War.

National security adviser Brent Scowcroft, speaking on NBC's "Today Show" Thursday, said Yeltsin's willingness to make major cuts in nuclear strength "was an attempt to reach out, to demonstrate that this was the new Russia, the democratic Russia, striving to change its relationship with the world in general and the United States in particular."

Beyond the deals and pledges, Yeltsin showed that a post-Soviet Moscow was willing to play second fiddle to Washington on arms and other issues. And his American partners embraced Yeltsin as warmly as they had former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

Bush promised to "live up to the letter" of the arms agreements. But he refused to commit himself to spending any "peace dividend" savings for America's cities or domestic problems.

The arms deal would slash long-range nuclear arsenals to about one-third current levels by the end of the century.

Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, D-Maine, and Minority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., said they thought Yeltsin's speech might loosen the congressional logjam on the aid package.