USIS Washington File

01 February 2000

Transcript: Albright, Ivanov Press Availability in Moscow Jan. 31

(Albright: "We are determined to seek common ground" on arms control)

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Russian Foreign
Minister Igor Ivanov met for almost six hours January 31 in Moscow,
discussing what Ivanov described as "the entire scope of U.S.-Russia

Meeting with the press afterwards, Albright said the in-depth talks
covered a great deal of ground, and that arms control and
nonproliferation figured prominently. Ivanov said the talks were
constructive, honest and useful and showed "a strengthening of an
atmosphere of stability and predictability" in U.S.-Russian relations.

Albright said she and Ivanov discussed prospects for the new Russian
parliament's early ratification of START II and for "early steps"
toward a START III treaty. She said they spent a considerable amount
of time discussing how to maintain "the long-standing strategic
benefits" of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty while permitting
both countries "to answer growing missile threats from unpredictable
third countries."

"Obviously," she said, "these are unlikely subjects for one-day
miracles. But the stakes are high, and we are determined to seek
common ground. Success would make both of our countries safer."

The situation in Chechnya was also discussed, and Albright said that
while no one questions Russia's right to combat insurgency and terror
within its borders, the war in Chechnya "has brought a tragic cost in
human lives and a high cost to Russia's world standing." She added,
"Some here may say this is a domestic issue, but it has cast a long
international shadow."

On European security, she said she was encouraged to hear "a positive
reaction from the Russian side to the idea of reinvigorated ties with
NATO." Other topics of discussion, according to Albright, included
Kosovo and Nagorno-Karabakh.

Albright and Ivanov signed two agreements during their talks, one on
satellite technology and aerospace cooperation, and another one that
updates the 1987 agreement on nuclear risk reduction.
The U.S. Secretary of State's visit to Moscow includes a meeting of
the Multilateral Steering Group on the Middle East peace process,
which is co-chaired by Russia and the United States.

Following is a State Department transcript of the press availability.
Ivanov's remarks were made in Russian; the English translation is

(begin transcript)

U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman
(Moscow, Russia)
February 1, 2000


Foreign Press Center
Moscow, Russia
January 31, 2000

FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: (In Russian - unofficial translation) Dear
ladies and gentlemen, we have just completed a very intensive round of
negotiations with U.S. Secretary of State Ms. Albright. We have
discussed the entire scope of U.S.-Russia relations. I think our
negotiations were constructive, honest and useful. They once again
have confirmed -- at the highest level -- the readiness of the U.S.
and Russia to step up cooperation between the two countries and showed
a strengthening of an atmosphere of stability and predictability in
our relations.

Together with the Secretary of State, we drafted a schedule of further
high-level contacts to take place in the next months. Today we signed
an inter-government agreement on technology space launch and a
protocol on amendments to the Nuclear Risk Reduction Agreement. We
paid special attention to issues of increasing security and stability,
including the disarmament process. The main issue here is to act in
accordance with the Cologne consultations on START and ABM. We
exchanged ideas on a wide spectrum of international and regional
problems -- the Balkans, the Korean peninsula, the Persian Gulf. The
situation in Afghanistan also causes serious concern. Of course, we
discussed the situation in the Northern Caucasus. We also discussed
issues of trade and economic relations between our countries.

You know that the official visit of the U.S. Secretary of State Ms.
Albright continues tomorrow when Ms. Albright and I take part in the
Middle East Multilateral Steering Group negotiations. By the way,
conducting these negotiations is yet another demonstration of the
effectiveness of U.S.-Russian cooperation in solving key international
problems. The day after tomorrow, the Secretary of State will meet
with Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, the Acting President of the Russian

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good afternoon. I am pleased to be here with my
friend, Igor Sergeyevich, as the snow continues to chase me from
Washington to Davos and now to Moscow.

The Foreign Minister and I were able to cover a great deal of ground
today in almost six hours of in-depth talks.

Arms control and nonproliferation figured prominently, including
prospects for the new Duma's early ratification of START II and for
early steps toward a START III. We also spent considerable time
discussing an interest I am convinced is mutual: maintaining the
long-standing strategic benefits of the ABM Treaty while also
permitting both our countries to answer growing missile threats from
unpredictable third countries.

Obviously these are unlikely subjects for one-day miracles. But the
stakes are high, and we are determined to seek common ground. Success
would make both of our countries safer.

Chechnya is another difficult subject we discussed. No one questions
Russia's right to combat insurgency and terror within its borders. But
the war in Chechnya has brought a tragic cost in human lives and a
high cost to Russia's world standing. Some here may say this is a
domestic issue but it has cast a long international shadow.

Over lunch, our delegations covered a range of regional and security
issues. We paid particular attention to Nagorno-Karabakh, a hard
problem on which Russia and the United States have worked for several
years and on which Presidents Kocharian and Aliyev have made some
important progress.

On European security, I was encouraged to hear a positive reaction
from the Russian side to the idea of reinvigorated ties with NATO. And
we had a good review of the situation in Kosovo, where Russian and
U.S. troops are serving side by side to give peace the best possible

Finally, I want to say just a word about two agreements we signed this
afternoon. The first protects sensitive U.S. satellite technology and
underscores our commitment to further aerospace cooperation with

The second updates and modernizes a 1987 agreement establishing
Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers in Moscow and Washington. This
mechanism has not generated earth-shattering headlines. But it has
worked quietly to help us avoid shattering the earth. And now it will
work even better.

As you can see from these agreements, the weather in Moscow may be
frozen, but the ability of the United States and Russia to achieve
progress on important issues clearly is not. And I am looking forward
to further meetings in the same spirit with Foreign Minister Ivanov --
and of course with Acting President Putin -- in the two days to come
and as the Foreign Minister described we also will be having very
important meetings on the multilateral track of the Middle East peace
process and we look forward to progress on that also.

QUESTION: (In Russian - unofficial translation) In her speech, Ms.
Albright mentioned you had six-hour negotiations on ABM. Is there any
movement toward each other in this area?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, let me begin, first of all I think that the
whole issue of where we are is to try to come to some common
understanding of the nature of the threat that we see coming from the
unpredictable nations and I can testify to the fact that it is not
easy to come to a common ground on this. We do have a different view.
We will continue to pursue this discussion because, representing the
United States, we feel very strongly that there is a threat not only
to us, but to Russia and other counties. That we are concerned about
that as we look at adjustments to the ABM Treaty which would be
necessary if we were to go forward with a national missile defense.

We continue to talk on the basis of an agreement that was reached
between our heads of state in Cologne where it was decided that
offensive and defensive questions would be discussed as a package and
so we continue to have this discussion. It will continue at a variety
of levels and I am hopeful because we have successfully dealt with
these issues in the past that we will come to a common understanding.

FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: (In Russian - unofficial translation) I would
like to add that, based on the Cologne agreements between our
presidents, we will have quite an open dialogue on ABM and START
issues this month. This dialogue should be open because it covers the
essence of the strategic stability on which the whole world/peace (the
Russian word mir was said here) has been standing during the last
several decades. We honestly said to our American partners that their
suggestions to amend the ABM treaty could ruin this agreement. It
would be a grave mistake, since this agreement is the foundation for
the whole structure of the security system. We are sure that,
together, we can find other responses to the threats that may come
from other countries. We are open to this dialogue and, in fact, are
conducting it now.

At the same time, we think it necessary to move ahead with strategic
arms reduction. The Russian Government has confirmed it intends to
reach the START II ratification. We also think it is necessary to
intensify work on defining the parameters of the START III treaty. We
should look for other opportunities that will allow us to establish
strict control over rocket technologies. In other words, we will
extend constructive cooperation that will not harm what we have done
so far and will help further strengthen strategic stability. This is
how we will conduct our future relations with the United States.

QUESTION: Both governments seem to be serious in their intention to
reduce their remaining arsenals of long-range nuclear warheads, but
the momentum that the people who care about arms control were so happy
to see only a few years ago, particularly under Mr. Gorbachev, seems
to have evaporated. What in your opinion is the cause of this
slowdown? Is it the U.S. space weapons aspiration? What is doing it?
Or is there less trust and less cooperation than one would think there
used to be in reducing those arsenals?

FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: (In Russian - unofficial translation) First
of all, the negotiations on START II, they were quite difficult but
they are over. (Problem with the microphone.)

(In English) I'm waiting for you.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: He just wants to ask the questions, he doesn't
want to answer them.

FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: (In Russian - unofficial translation) You
remember quite well the negotiations on START II -- I will not list
specific dates. The negotiations were difficult, though they ended
with serious results. Unfortunately, for some objective reasons, START
II has been ratified neither in Russia nor in the U.S. As you know and
understand, without ratifying and starting to implement the START II,
further reduction is just impossible. We understand the importance of
further arms reduction and, despite the fact that START II has not
been ratified in Russia nor in the U.S., our presidents in Cologne
agreed to start consultations on START III and ABM -- treaties that
will dramatically reduce the nuclear arsenals of both countries. These
consultations are going on now, so the sooner we, in our own
countries, achieve the ratification of the START II, the earlier we
will be able to start negotiations and practical realization of the
next step, START III.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: If I could just add here, I think that the Foreign
Minister has made very clear the relationship of these various pieces
of arms control discussions and I am very pleased to hear him say how
important the ratification of START II is, that will allow us to go
forward on START III that is being discussed on the basis of an
agreement that our leaders made in Helsinki on numbers that were from
2000 to 2500 and those are the basis of the discussions and obviously
we're interested in whatever suggestions will be coming as we get into
serious negotiations on that. And again to repeat, as I have said and
he has said, the agreements reached in Cologne that put the offensive
and defensive packages together for discussion, I think that's an
important aspect of understanding the process that is taking place on
arms control discussions at this time.

QUESTION: I would like to ask you what the plans are to deal with the
journalist, Mr. Babitskiy, who as you know is an employee of Radio
Liberty and is in jail in Chechnya, are there plans to charge him,
free him, what are the plans? And on the second question to Minister
Ivanov, what does the Foreign Ministry think it can do to persuade the
government security services to release the archives that American and
western European scholars still believe are here but (inaccessible) on
the case of Raoul Wallenberg?

FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: (In Russian - unofficial translation) As for
Mr. Babitskiy, this case is under the control of the Acting President
of the Russian Federation. A representative of the General Procuracy
has left for the Northern Caucasus to clarify the details of
Babitskiy's detention, and as soon as we receive this report we will
let you know the details. I have nothing to add to what I have said.
As for the archive information and accessing the archives, we will
follow the existing law.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Can I just add on Mr. Babitskiy, we believe that
it's very important that it be established that those journalists who
have a desire to cover what is going on in Chechnya should be allowed
to do so and that freedom of the press is very important in this
situation as in others.

FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: (In Russian - unofficial translation) I would
like to add only that, as you know, a large number of journalists,
including accredited and foreign ones, actively work in the North
Caucasus. A lot of information they present, from our point view, is
not objective, though none of the foreign journalists were refused

QUESTION: Ms. Albright, before your visit you said the United States
is attentively following the election campaign for the Iranian
Parliament and that the political dialogue between Washington and
Tehran depends on the results of the elections in Iran. What results
do you expect and how could they influence the political dialogue
between the United States and Iran on the situation in the Persian
Gulf and relations between Washington and Moscow?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say that we are in fact closely following
what will happen in the Majlis elections and it depends frankly how
freely those elections are able to take place. What was so interesting
in the original election of President Khatemi was that we noted that
he had been elected by large numbers of people that...students,
younger people, women, a group of people who clearly for their own
reasons believe that it is important to have increasing reforms within
the Iranian system. It is very hard for me to predict how the
elections will come out but we are following them very closely.

Let me say again that we have followed closely the statements of
President Khatemi and Foreign Minister Kharazi and have tried in
various ways to respond to some of the points that they have made. We
also have made clear that we are prepared to have a dialogue with the
Iranian government on all issues of concern and believe that it could
happen if they were willing to discuss all the issues of concern.
Second, however we do continue to point out that Iran continues to
support terrorists, that they seek to acquire weapons of mass
destruction, and that they do not support the Middle East peace
process. These are the kinds of problems that make it very difficult
for us to begin to think about roadmaps for a different relationship.
But we are waiting to see what comes out of the Majlis election.

QUESTION: (inaudible) ... a North Korean delegation will be visiting
Washington. I wondered, a question for both of you, if there is
(inaudible) ... North Korea, what implications would that have for
your negotiations on arms control?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, let me begin with this -- there has been
confirmation of the fact that the North Koreans are going to be
sending a high level envoy to Washington in March. Ambassador Kartman
is finalizing some of the preparations for that visit and I think in
many ways it is analogous to the visit that Dr. Perry paid to North
Korea, and also really we hope follows up on some of the suggestions
that were made by that review process. I think that it will be very
important to see whether there is real progress in lessening the North
Korean missile threat and the proliferation of missiles and whether
they will be stopping the support for terrorism. It will obviously, to
answer your question on the implications, it will have a great deal to
do as to whether there will be stability in the Korean peninsula. And
we also obviously need to know what the effect of this is going to be
in terms of their desire to try to acquire nuclear weapons.

I would see this visit as an important, modest step, and we will have
to judge it one step at a time exactly. But for now the fact that this
visit has been confirmed I think will have very useful application and
implications for various parts of our dialog or attempted dialog with
them in order to deal with the problems of proliferation of missiles
as well as nuclear programs.

FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: (In Russian - unofficial translation) I would
like to inform you that on February 8 I will visit North Korea and
sign an agreement on friendship and cooperation between our countries.
We will discuss international issues and issues of security on the
Korean peninsula. To answer your question, we are taking these
circumstances into account, but they are not most important in our
negotiations on the START and ABM treaties.

QUESTION: (In Russian - unofficial translation) First, our military
told us many times that in Chechnya they conduct high-precision
bombing on Chechen fighters only. The West, including the United
States, always expressed concern about the scale and the
disproportionate manner of the use of force. Does this mean they
mistrust the military reports or do you think that high-precision
bombing itself is inadequate in this situation? Have you become less
concerned about the situation in Chechnya? Could you provide
preliminary dates of a future visit of President Clinton to Russia?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all let me say that we have made
quite clear that we think that there has been an incredible amount of
misery injected upon [the] civilian population of Chechnya, both
militarily and also because of the creation of so many refugees and
the humanitarian situation is very bad, and that in order to deal with
what is clearly a problem of terrorism that there has been excessive
force used and civilians have been, I think, indiscriminately targeted
in a way that has broadened and widened the problem. We have made that
quite clear and for that reason have stated many times to the Russians
that we believe that there is no military solution to the Chechnya
problem. We support the territorial integrity of Russia, but we don't
think that this can be resolved militarily and that political dialog
is very important.

As for -- and we did discuss this today and I think that we have
differences of opinion, obviously, on Chechnya, but I did make clear
to the Foreign Minister that it was my sense that Russia was paying a
toll internationally for its actions and was being increasingly
isolated as has been evidenced from a number of statements made by
Foreign Ministers of other countries.

As for a Clinton visit or meeting, let me say that we have considered
it highly important for there to be contact at all levels between
Russian and American officials. Foreign Minister Ivanov and I talk to
each other on the phone often more than once a week and stay in very
close contact. President Clinton obviously had an excellent
relationship with President Yeltsin. He has met with Acting President
Putin before he became Acting President, as Prime Minister in Auckland
and in Oslo, and they have corresponded and the President is prepared
to obviously carry on dialog and he will be prepared to meet with the
new President of Russia.

FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: (In Russian - unofficial Translation) ...
only humanitarian, we have been talking about it at the European
Council session and with the OSCE [Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe]. They could actively participate in the process
of rebuilding the democratic institutions in Chechnya and preparing
for the parliamentary election campaign and so on. I think this
openness, and our further cooperation, will contribute to a better
understanding of what happened and what we are trying to achieve
there. So, I think talks about isolating (Russia) would be
unjustified. In any case, if isolation exists to some extent, it has a
temporary nature.

(end transcript)

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State.)