Yeltsin backs a broader Nato

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The Independent Online
MOSCOW (Reuter) - Russia's President Boris Yeltsin said yesterday that he backed in principle Nato's plans to expand the military alliance to the old Communist East.

'Boris Yeltsin characterised these proposals as positive and as deserving support in principle,' the President's press service said, reporting on Mr Yeltsin's talks with the visiting United States Secretary of State, Warren Christopher.

Mr Christopher had said on Thursday that he planned to discuss with Mr Yeltsin and other Russian leaders the United States plan to expand the Western alliance. Speaking to reporters en route to Moscow, Mr Christopher said the new Nato plan, which calls for joint East-West military exercises by next year, would be on his Russian agenda.

A senior US official travelling with Mr Christopher said the US plan was designed to allay Russia's fears about its place in the post-Cold War world. According to a Russian report, Mr Christopher had reiterated Washington's full support for Mr Yeltsin's suppressing of an uprising earlier this month.

President Bill Clinton will meet Mr Yeltsin in Russia in January, Mr Christopher said. In Washington the White House spokeswoman, Dee Dee Myers, said Mr Clinton would also visit Western and Central Europe to discuss post-Cold War security issues. The trip would last 'about a week, maybe a little longer', she said, and was to follow Mr Clinton's 10 January visit to Brussels for a Nato summit.

Also in Moscow yesterday, Mr Yeltsin ordered elections to new-style local parliaments in Moscow, St Petersburg and more than 60 regions to be held between December 1993 and March 1994.