Russia's reckoning: Clinton relief as Yeltsin stays put

PRESIDENT BORIS YELTSIN's statement that he would not resign and would not dissolve the Duma was greeted with relief in Washington, where President Clinton and his Cabinet paraded the decision to go to Moscow next week as a show of support for Russian reform. Mr Clinton, speaking in Martha's Vineyard where he is on holiday, said that it was especially important for the US to support Russia when it was in difficulty.

"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," he said, "we'll stick with them." The sentiment was echoed by a procession of senior officials, including the National Security Adviser, Sandy Berger who said the US held an 'enormous stake in "Russia's continuation on the path of reform", and wanted to signal that it would not turn away in the face of difficulties.

But some aspects of Mr Clinton's visit, like the meeting with with opposition leaders, signal White House preparations for Russia after an ailing Yelstin.

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