The Week Ahead: Leaders to seal sauna rapport

Click to follow
The Independent Online
THE RUSSIAN President, Boris Yeltsin, begins a visit to Germany on Wednesday to see Chancellor Helmut Kohl and both leaders have unfinished business they wish to wind up amicably.

Russia seems to have abandoned its repeated pleas for Western cash to help boost economic reform, and Germany has let it be known that no more will be offered.

Both sides will step delicately around the prickly matter of the final withdrawal of former Soviet troops from east Germany in August. Russia wants a joint send- off, but the Western allies cannot forget the Soviet army's role in implementing more than 40 years of Communist repression. And the Russians are unlikely to make any move on the return of artworks seized from Germany after 1945.

One area of progress, however, is likely to be Yeltsin's personal rapport with Mr Kohl. Last year Mr Yeltsin took Mr Kohl on a boat jaunt on Lake Baikal in Siberia and held talks with him in a sauna. Mr Kohl is expected to repay the favour on Thursday when he invites Mr Yeltsin to his home in the southern city of Ludwigshafen.

Russian troops are not the only ones quitting Germany. On Wednesday the RAF will mount a big parade in Berlin to mark its departure from the city after 49 years. Also on Wednesday the cabinet in Bonn discusses possible unilateral action against the imports of British beef because of their fears of mad-cow disease.

They will be celebrating Victory Day in Moscow and Kiev today, marking the Soviet triumph over Germany in the Second World War. And in another event recalling those years, the replacement for the Pegasus Bridge, the first structure captured by the Allies in the D-Day landings in Caen, Normandy, is due to open today.

The recently elected 305-strong Argentine Constituent Assembly starts its deliberations in Buenos Aires on Sunday. It has until August to approve a number of constitutional reforms, of which the most important is to allow a second presidential term.

On Thursday the three main contenders in August's general election in Mexico, Ernesto Zedillo, Cuahtemoc Cardenas and Diego Fernandez, hold a televised debate. This marks the opening of a campaign which the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party stands more chance of losing than at any time in the last 65 years.

Malawi holds its first multi-party elections on Sunday and the opposition United Democratic Front is tipped to win. The old autocratic leader Hastings Banda called off a campaign trip this week because of ill health.

Thursday is the last day for the US State Department to decide whether or not to keep the American embassy open in Grenada. This is a legacy of Ronald Reagan who sent 7,000 US Marines to invade the island in 1983 ostensibly to protect Americans from a pro-Cuban regime that posed a threat to the United States. The embassy has a staff of two.

The Cannes Film Festival opens on Thursday. Clint Eastwood is set to head the jury with Catherine Deneuve as vice-president.

Comments