Clinton takes a small step with new partners

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The Independent Online
(Photograph omitted)

PRESIDENT Bill Clinton in Prague with leaders of four Central European countries which have been offered Nato's Partnership for Peace. He is flanked by President Michal Kovac of Slovakia and Poland's Lech Walesa (left), and the Czech President Vaclav Havel and Hungary's Arpad Goncz. Mr Walesa, who had pushed hard for full Nato membership, said the plan was 'a step in the right direction, but a small step', adding 'sometimes small is beautiful'.

After Prague, Mr Clinton left for an uncertain Moscow summit, stopping in Kiev where he announced a final agreement to eliminate the world's third-largest nuclear arsenal. The accord is expected to be signed in Moscow tomorrow.

Mr Clinton's success was soured by news from Washington that the White House would ask the Attorney General, Janet Reno, to appoint an independent counsel to investigate the Whitewater real estate venture, which the Clinton couple once partly owned, and its tangled dealings with a failed Arkansas savings bank. Efforts to portray Republican demands for a counsel as a partisan witch-hunt have collapsed, with nine Democratic Senators agreeing an inquiry is the only way to clear the air.