Clinton prepares for US-Russian summit

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The Independent Online
WASHINGTON - President Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin, the Russian President, will hold a two-day summit in Vancouver, Canada in early April, writes Patrick Cockburn. The meeting comes at a time of growing concern in Washington that Mr Yeltsin will lose power and be replaced by leaders less sympathetic to the US.

The summit, on 3 and 4 April, will be Mr Clinton's first foreign trip as President. He is expected to reassure Mr Yeltsin that he will ask Congress to increase the dollars 417m ( pounds 295m) in foreign aid budgeted for Russia and former Soviet republics this year - but his administration is seeking budget cuts and he will find it difficult to be generous. Vancouver was chosen because Mr Yeltsin had already planned a trip to the Russian Far East, making it convenient to fly on to Canada.

In the weeks since Mr Clinton took office there have been growing fears in Washington that Mr Yeltsin may be overthrown, although some US specialists say these are exaggerated. Nevertheless the fall of Mr Yeltsin would precipitate a crisis which might divert Mr Clinton from his domestic priorities.