President Clinton. Good morning. I want to make just a couple of brief remarks and let President Yeltsin make a couple of remarks, and then we’ll take a few questions.
Since I last met with President Yeltsin in Vancouver, the Russian people have voted in an historic referendum to continue their march toward democracy and toward a free market economy. They’ve taken bold steps to create a new constitution.
We have now obligated over two-thirds of the funds that we promised to contribute to Russia’s march toward democracy and free markets at Vancouver. We are delivering the promised humanitarian food shipments. We have provided substantial support for Russia’s efforts to privatize state-owned industries. Loans to create new Russian businesses and jobs will soon be on the way through our Russian-American Enterprise Fund. And just this week, the United States Export-Import Bank signed a $2 billion oil and gas framework that will help to revitalize Russia’s energy sector and provide for expanded sales of American equipment and services.
As I have said to the American people from the very beginning, an investment in Russia’s future is good for the American people as well as good for the Russian people.
I want to mention a special project in particular that Hillary has been involved with. She discovered that Mrs. Yeltsin has a special interest in improving the dental health care of Russia’s children, and she was able to arrange the delivery of surplus American military equipment for two dental clinics in Moscow. I very much appreciate Mrs. Yeltsin’s efforts in this regard.
I’ve also been working, as all of you know, with the congressional leadership and members of both parties to pass a second round of Russian aid through the Congress, as well as to eliminate obsolete cold war restrictions that still impede our trade, scientific, and cultural contracts with Russia. I expect those will be successful also.
We discussed a lot of issues here today, but the bottom line is we believe we have a good partnership. We think it is working in the interests of the people of Russia and the people of the United States. And we intend to keep it going.
President Yeltsin. Thank you.
After the Vancouver meeting, President Clinton and I have established a relationship over months that have been replete with significant work. It was President Clinton’s purpose to ensure that Congress adopt the package of agreements that we had set. I, for my part, had to win the referendum and also ensure that we prepare ourselves for the adoption of our new constitution. And I think both parties, the two Presidents, have resolved these matters.
And today we had an opportunity of checking up on time limits, what has been accomplished since the Vancouver meeting, what has been failed in a sense, and it’s like answering to the test that you have to undergo at school. And I think that, in a sense, well, I think that we managed to clear about 25 questions together. And this, of course, concerned bilateral relations and also international matters, starting with the Asian and the Pacific region, the Middle East, and also general problems or world problems that we share in connection with the military.
Now, I’d like to say that I’m happy with our meeting here. And I think that our partnership and our friendship is strengthening day by day, and this is indeed the guarantee of further developments and progress.
Russian Military Sales
Q. Were you able to persuade Mr. Yeltsin to cancel the sale of Russian missile technology to India and Libya? Did you discuss that, and where does that stand now?
President Clinton. We discussed the outstanding differences of opinion, and we agreed to continue the negotiations intensely and immediately. And I think you may have some sort of answer at least on the ongoing status of the negotiations next week.
Russia- U.S.. Relations
Q. How do you evaluate the level of Russian and American relations in terms of dealing with problems? Are they at the level of mutual understanding or shall we say there is certain interaction, and how far are we getting in the relations between the two countries?
President Clinton. Is that for me or for President Yeltsin?
President Clinton. I think we have forged a remarkable partnership. We have worked together on any number of issues including this G-7 summit we just completed, including our efforts to avoid the problems that would be created if North Korea were to withdraw from the nonproliferation regime, and a whole range of other issues.
I think it has been a remarkable partnership. Are there differences between our two countries and between our positions? Of course there are. Can we resolve every issue? Of course we can’t. We represent two great countries that are now very much more alike than they have ever been in their histories but still have some differences. But I think the peoples of our nations should feel very good about the level of cooperation that we have and the deep bonds of partnership that we have formed.
President Yeltsin. I’d like to say that we do have a very good partnership, and I think that we’re developing relations and more than that. Earlier, we used not to discuss matters of local conflicts within the Community of Independent States. But this time we have touched on matters concerning Georgia, the situation in Georgia, and we’ve also covered the Baltic States and a number of other aspects and issues. So indeed, we have started tackling specific issues. And so we have brought the oppositions closer, and there is a lot that is in parallel, so to speak.
Q. This is a question for both Presidents. Ukraine has said that it wants to be a nuclear power, and it does not want to give up its weapons. What do you think of that?
President Clinton. Well, there are different voices in Ukraine. Ukraine is also committed to join the NPT and to ratify START I and to go on to START II. We have a lot of outstanding negotiations with Ukraine. We are now trying to negotiate a comprehensive agreement for the disposition of highly enriched uranium in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, as well as in Russia. There are lots of things that we have going on.
And I can only tell you for my part that I hope that there will be a nonnuclear Ukraine, that the commitments the Government has made will be kept. And I hope the United States can be engaged with Ukraine in a positive way so that they will feel that it is very much in their interests to do that. And I think President Yeltsin feels the same way.
President Yeltsin. Yes, indeed, I agree with you. And we’ve agreed today to supply certain ideas so that the concept of a trilateral agreement for Ukraine—let’s say, Ukraine, U.S.A., and Russia.
Russia- U.S.. Trade
Q. I heard—[inaudible]—yesterday that some 300 legislative acts in the United States discriminatory towards Russia would be lifted within 2 years or so. What can you say on that, and how soon Russia is going to get the most favorable nation status? Thank you.
President Clinton. First of all, I think that many of those acts discriminatory against Russia that date back to the cold war period will be removed from the books of Congress in this year. We have compiled quite a long list of them that we think cannot be justified anymore. And there is a strong base of support in both political parties in the United States Congress to remove those laws. So we will, as soon as I go home, we will begin to put in motion the process of removing many of those statutes.
As to the second question you mentioned, we are working also on the possibility of the graduation out of the Jackson-Vanik restrictions for Russia. And the President and I discussed a couple of items outstanding on that. And we made an agreement about how we would proceed with them. And I think if we can resolve them, you will see that moving forward as well. Thank you very much.
Visit to Moscow
Q. Are you going to have a meeting in Moscow?
President Clinton. It’s possible. I hope so. We didn’t set a definite date, but I accepted President Yeltsin’s invitation.
Q. This year?
President Clinton. I hope it will be this year. That depends on what we do at home, you know. But I hope so.