Russian Prez Boris Yeltsin made his standup comedy debut during a press conference at the White House, mugging with his interpreter and causing even the stoic Veep Al Gore to crack up. But by all accounts, progress between the U.S. and Russia seems serious. Both agreed to speed up the timetable of dismantling warheads as required by START II agreement reached last year. Clinton also boosted his Russian aid pledge to $1 billion. Other notable deals: U.S. intelligence agencies will now help their counterparts in Russia in tracking down plutonium smugglers, and Clinton managed to convince the burly Russian leader to turn down any future arm-sales contracts with Iran. That final deal was a notable coup, says TIME State Department correspondent J.F.O. McAllister.