• ACI Russia

08/28/1998 21:14:23 Clinton pledges to support Russia if it reforms

(Recasts with Clinton quotes)

By Randall Mikkelsen

EDGARTOWN, Mass., Aug 28 (Reuters) - U.S. President Bill

Clinton urged Russia on Friday to take the tough medicine its

sick economy needs, pledging to help if it did, and said he

would hold a long-scheduled summit in Moscow next week.

Clinton said that in an interdependent world the United

States could not abandon Russia and its embattled President

Boris Yeltsin.

"We should tell them that if they'll be strong and do the

disciplined, hard things they have to do to reform their

country, their economy, and get through this dark night, that

we'll stick with them," Clinton said in a speech on Martha's

Vineyard, the Massachusetts island where he is on vacation.

Russia's financial crisis, in which the rouble has gone

into free fall, has brought a chorus of domestic demands for

Yeltsin's resignation and fears abroad of a global economic


Clinton made his comments on Russia in an aside of a speech

to mark the 35th anniversary of the historic 1963 civil rights

march on Washington.

The speech was filled with references to the importance of

forgiveness and of sticking by people when they are down, an

apparent allusion to Clinton's political woes following his

admission that he had an affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Clinton said Russia's economic and political crisis had

again demonstrated the interdependence of the world economy and

said this argued in favor of his visiting Moscow as planned.

"What is the lesson from that? Well I should go to Russia,"

Clinton said. "Anybody can come see you when you're doing well.

I should go there."

Clinton is scheduled to meet Yeltsin in Moscow on Tuesday

and Wednesday for a long-delayed meeting that is expected to be

overshadowed by Russia's financial and political disarray.

Yeltsin insisted in a meeting with U.S. Deputy Secretary of

State Strobe Talbott and then in a Russian television interview

on Friday that he plans to serve until his term ends in 2000.

"I am not going anywhere. I am not going to resign,"

Yeltsin said in the interview with RTR Russian televison,

adding that he would retire after serving his term.

In one sign of U.S. concern about Russia, Clinton was

briefed in a conference call on Friday by Talbott, Vice

President Al Gore, National Security Adviser Sandy Berger and

Deputy Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers.

"They went over preparations for next week's trip and the

president reiterated his commitment to go," White House

spokesman Barry Toiv told reporters on Martha's Vineyard.

"He had a very good discussion today about it, about the

trip and about preparations for the trip, and he will be


There has been persistent speculation that Clinton might

cancel or postpone the visit because of the political and

economic uncertainty in Russia. The president is to leave for

Moscow on Monday.

Describing the 15-minute meeting between Talbott and

Yeltsin, a U.S. official said of Yeltsin, "he seemed very eager

and looking forward to the meeting next week with the president


Russia's economic problems have set off a global panic in

stock markets, with the Dow Jones industrial average suffering

its third-biggest one-day mauling in history on Thursday -- a

slide of 357 points. For the week, it was down 481.97 points at


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