(Text: White House release) (480)

(The following press statement was released February 7, 1997, by the White House Office of the Vice President following the eighth meeting of the U.S.-Russian Joint Commission on Economic and Technical Cooperation, also known as the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission.)

U.S.-Russian Joint Commission on Economic and Technological Cooperation


Vice President Al Gore is pleased by the participation of Secretary of Defense William Cohen as a new co-chair of the Defense Conversion Committee (DCC) with Defense Minister Igor Rodionov. The Vice President welcomes the excellent report from the Committee, noting the growing depth and breadth of our defense relationship, including work in the defense conversion arena. This kind of real world cooperation in areas that further U.S.-Russian common objectives is an essential part of developing the U.S.-Russian partnership.

The Vice President is pleased with the progress the DCC has made in facilitating and supporting the conversion of Russian defense industries formerly involved in weapons of mass destruction to peaceful commercial endeavors. Over its existence, the Defense Conversion Committee has emphasized the facilitation of private U.S. investment in Russian defense conversion and the growing involvement of regional leaders in the restructuring of their defense dependent economies. Defense conversion project financing and insurance from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, project feasibility studies from the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, and business management training opportunities such as those offered by the U.S. Department of Commerce's SABIT program have made concrete contributions to these efforts. OPIC has provided support to three new conversion projects in various sectors, including telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, and satellite launch industry. The Vice President also commends the Defense Enterprise Fund on its continuing support of defense conversion projects in Russia. Since the last meeting of the Commission, the DEF has received an additional $22 million dollars from the Department of Defense. In fiscal years 1997 and 1998 the DEF will receive another $20 million from the Department of State. Of equal, if not greater importance, is the effort the DEF is now making to raise a private equity fund.

Vice President Gore praises the Reutov workshop as an excellent example of how the U.S. government can be a catalyst for local consensus building that promotes effective, community based solutions to defense conversion and economic adjustment. The Vice President congratulates the Russian town of Reutov for its commitment to this defense adjustment process and thanks DoD's Office of Economic Adjustment for leading this effort.

The Prime Minister and the Vice President also received a comprehensive and encouraging report on how the DoD's Cooperative Threat Reduction program continues to advance our mutual security goals including: accelerated and safe reduction of nuclear materials, chemical and nuclear weapons; and the safety and security of remaining nuclear weapons and materials.