THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary (Helsinki, Finland) March 21, 1997

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let me give you a little sense of the chronology of the day in this quite lovely setting of the house of the President with his glass windows, with the light streaming in.


They then turned to the START and ABM issues, and went through what we saw as START III guidelines. There were a few issues that were unresolved there. We then moved to the ABM-TMD area. That was the hardest area. And President Yeltsin put forward certain ideas that we basically could not accept. There then was some effort before lunch to resolve those issues at a lower level. That was not successful. I think after the lunch the President made quite clear to President Yeltsin that we essentially could not go farther than what we had proposed. And I think at that point there was just a few word fixes that needed to be made late in the afternoon to reach the final agreement.

But I think it essentially was the commitment of the two Presidents after the lunch to get this thing done. And this has been like Sisyphus' rock, which has gone up the hill, this ABM-TMD issue, as Bob indicated, many times, but never quite got over the hill. And it really took both Presidents deciding that they were going to get on the same side of the rock and push it over the hill today, before they left here, and make this truly an historic summit that really, I think, made the difference.


Q: It sounds like sort of a strange negotiation. You seem to be saying that the U.S. didn't give any ground. Were there any issues where the U.S. --

We agreed that we would consult on --
we agreed that we would consult in the standing consultative commission on these higher velocity systems without providing any veto. I think that was an important statement on our part at the end.


Q: At a briefing at the Russian press center this afternoon, Baturin talked about what sort of the Russians would have to take to compensate for this expansion of NATO if it should take place. One he mentioned was that the military might have to -- from the agreement signed by -- made by Gorbachev in 1990 about not using rail mobile missiles. Was this or any other --


Q: -- measure of -- mentioned by Yeltsin?

No. And let's remember that this comes in the context of two other negotiations. One is a START III negotiation, which will bring strategic levels down dramatically to 2,000 or 2,500. And second is a conventional forces in Europe negotiation, which will, on a reciprocal basis, deal with conventional force levels in Central Europe in a way that will prevent large buildups.

So I think these two mechanisms and just the general change in the threat environment means that NATO is not a greater threat to Russia. It is a -- certainly that is not its intention at this point.

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