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Clinton `ill-advised' to visit Russia for VE-Day

Washington - Jesse Helms, the Republican chairman of the US Senate's committee on foreign relations, has attacked President Bill Clinton's decision to attend VE-Day celebrations in Moscow as ill-timed and ill- advised, writes John Carlin.

Mr Clinton's trip, scheduled for 9 May, was, he said, "the latest in a series of ill-advised foreign policy actions ... that will be perceived as an implicit show of support for the policies of the Russian government".

Senator Helms, a veteran Cold War warrior on the far right of the Republican party, argued that Mr Clinton's scheduled visit would be seen as an endorsement of "Russian aggres- sion in Chechnya, nuclear sales to Iran and meddling by Russian agents in the affairs of former Soviet republics".

Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican who heads a Senate sub-committee in charge of foreign aid, added: "We're sending precisely the wrong message at the wrong time. The White House is giving Yeltsin everything he wanted without getting anything in return."

Warren Christopher, US Secretary of State, said in an interview with the Washington Times yesterday that the administration was not overly committed to Mr Yeltsin, but he had "led democratic and economic reform" and "deserved" US support.