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
"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