Holding the Line on NATO

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: In a pre-Helsinki summit meeting with President Clinton, Yevgeny Primakov continued his push to wring the maximum possible concessions out of the U.S. before NATO begins its eastward expansion. With the Russian Foreign Minister taking an increasingly hard line towards expansion, Clinton laid several concessions out on the table. Among them were a charter to give Russian more participation in NATO proceedings, joint peacekeeping operations similar to those in Bosnia and promises that NATO would not deploy troops in substantial numbers in newly admitted states. But because none of the proposals addressed one of Russia's most coveted demands, a document legally binding the country to NATO, Primakov left unsatisfied. Emerging from the White House, he stated flatly that "Russia will not change its position on NATO" and continued his insistence that the U.S. make concessions. Speaking on Russian television, Boris Yeltsin echoed Primakov's hard line, suggesting that an expanded NATO could lead to renewed Cold War tensions. "Our diplomats have made enough concessions to the United States," he said. "Now it's the U.S. turn to move in order to preserve our partnership." Although the Administration had moved during weekend meetings between Primakov and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine to tie Russian politically to the alliance, the U.S. continues to reject a more binding resolution.