USIS Washington 

10 September 1999

Transcript: Albright, Ivanov Press Conference in New Zealand, 9/10

(Albright says talks to include corruption, security issues) (2350)

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says both she and Russian
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov "take very seriously" the problems raised
by allegations of corruption and money laundering in the Russian
Federation, but that from her perspective, the issue has not affected
relations between the two countries.

She said she and Ivanov had already discussed the issue, and she
welcomed Russia's offer to send law enforcement specialists to
Washington to consult on the matter.

Ivanov joined Albright at a press conference before their working
dinner September 10 in Auckland, New Zealand, where they were
attending the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

Albright told reporters that they would be covering a broad range of
"vital" topics during their discussions, including meeting the threat
of missile attacks by rogue nations, maintaining the strategic
benefits of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, and reducing the
size of each side's nuclear arsenals.

Speaking through an interpreter, Ivanov said Russia's leaders attach a
high importance to maintaining a constructive dialogue with, and
cooperating with, the United States and would continue to follow this
policy. "It is especially important now," he said, "because there are
a number of topical and burning, urgent issues that require finding
mutual understanding in order to be resolved." He said he believed
that through joint efforts, the two nations could counter such
dangerous developments as "terrorism, separatism, [and] extremism."

Following is the State Department transcript of the press conference:

(begin transcript)

Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and Russian Foreign Minister
Igor Ivanov

Joint Press Availability,
Stamford Plaza Hotel
Auckland, New Zealand,
September 10, 1999

As released by the Office of the Spokesman

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good evening. In tonight's working dinner, Foreign
Minister Ivanov and I will be discussing a broad range of vital
topics. And it is apt that we do so here at APEC, as the United States
and Russia are neighbors across the Pacific.

First, I do want to express the American people's condolences for the
tragic loss of life caused by the explosion in Moscow two nights ago.
Investigation of this event is not complete. But coming on the heels
of the recent bombing attack in a Moscow shopping mall, events such as
this remind us of the need for our two countries to intensify our
cooperation in the fight against terror.

The Foreign Minister and I will also discuss candidly the problems
posed by international financial crime and corruption. This is an
issue that we take extremely seriously. And for this reason, we
welcome the visit of a team of Russian law enforcement specialists to
Washington next week for consultations.

Other security issues will have a prominent place in our meeting as
well. We will continue our discussions of the growing rogue-state
missile threat and how to meet it; and of how to maintain the
strategic benefits of the ABM Treaty; and of how to reduce the size of
each side's nuclear arsenals, by bringing the START II Treaty into
force and by reaching agreement on START III.

In these and other matters, we have a lot to cover. Fortunately, the
Foreign Minister and I have frequent opportunities to be in touch,
including later this month at the UN General Assembly. And of course,
President Clinton and Prime Minister Putin will be meeting for the
first time here on Sunday.

And I know that both the Foreign Minister and I are looking forward to
a typically productive evening.

FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: (English translation) Ladies and gentlemen,
we in Moscow attach traditionally high importance to the continued and
-- to the maintenance of the dialogue, constructive dialogue, on the
topical issues of today's development. Recently a telephone
conversation took place between the President of Russia, Boris
Yeltsin, and President of the United States, Bill Clinton. In the very
near future, the Secretary of Defense of the United States, Mr. Cohen,
will visit Moscow. And shortly, and as Madeleine Albright correctly
pointed out, we constantly maintain useful contacts and dialogue.

These contacts are maintained within the framework of the areas of
cooperation and continued dialogue, as framed out by our -- during the
meeting of the two presidents in Cologne. These are called for to
restore trust in our bilateral relations. It is especially important
now, because there are a number of topical and burning, urgent issues
that require finding mutual understanding in order to be resolved.

Without such mutual trust and the account of each other's interests,
it would be difficult to achieve this. First of all, I mean here the
entire gamut of issues having to do with maintenance of strategic
stability and settlement of international conflicts. Through joint
efforts, we should counter such dangerous developments of the world as
terrorism, separatism, extremism, and other extreme demonstrations.

So these are the areas of our cooperation and intercourse. And I would
like to use this opportunity to say the words of appreciation to the
U.S. side for the words of condolence, condolences in connection with
the death through a terrorist attack in Moscow.

These discussions here in Auckland are viewed and are conceived as the
preparation for the forthcoming meeting between the Prime Minister
Putin and President Clinton.

I would like to stress here once again that we in Moscow are strongly
abiding by the political line of furtherance of constructive dialogue
and cooperation with the United States. This is a policy which is not
based on deviations due to political conjuncture. The leadership of
Russia will continue to follow this political line.

QUESTION: Mr. Ivanov, with Washington focusing so much on corruption
in Russia and American prosecutors looking very closely at the large
amounts of Russian money that have flowed in and out of the Bank of
New York, what is the potential of all this affecting American-Russian
relations? And, second of all, do you think a chief prosecutor in
Russia should have a free hand to investigate corruption in Russia?

FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: (English translation) Corruption is a
transnational phenomenon. And it is appropriately -- when they say and
state that monies in question belonged to Russia or Russians, the bank
is an American bank. That is why we support cooperation between the
special services, who must draw the necessary and appropriate
conclusions and make the necessary decisions. As Secretary Albright
just mentioned, next week a high-level delegation will come to
Washington from Moscow consisting of representatives of the
Procurator's Office of the Interior Ministry, tax police, and others.
And we believe that such an interaction should be conducive to our
expanded cooperation in certain areas, because such challenges require
joint action and response.

And, appropriately, we -- the foreign ministers within the APEC
conference -- discussed the need to establish cooperation in the fight
against corruption, money laundering, narcotic drugs trafficking and
others, because these challenges are multilateral and require
multilateral response.

I'd like to stress, in conclusion, that we have an interest in a
complete investigation of this entire body of (inaudible) information.
And we are prepared for the most, closest cooperation.

QUESTION: A question to the two ministers: You've mentioned amongst
other things that you welcome the consultations scheduled in
connection with the ABM Treaty. Is it true that the United States in
the past, in the recent past, asked the Russian side to change the
parameters of the ABM Treaty? Could you elaborate on the state of
affairs here, and could you comment on the possibility of this issue
affecting the bilateral relations between the two countries.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, let me state that, as I mentioned in my
remarks, is that we are, the United States, concerned about activities
by the rogue nations, in terms of increased threats. And I believe
that that is a threat that is common to both our countries. As we have
indicated in Washington, the President is committed to a limited
development of national missile defense, but not a deployment. And we
do think that this will require amendments to the ABM Treaty. We do
believe that the ABM treaty has been the core of the arms control
regimes and obviously consider its continued importance.

I have found that in my discussions with Foreign Minister Ivanov, and
prior to that with Foreign Minister Primakov, that we have a great
deal in common in terms of our arms control agenda and that we have
done a lot of very good work together. And I would hope that in the
course of our discussions that we would find common ground on how to
deal with what I said was a common threat from the rogue nations.

FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: (English Translation) Under the agreement
between the two presidents reached in Cologne, consultations are now
underway between the Russian and American experts on the issues
related to the ABM and the START issues. Understandably, the subject
matter is extremely sensitive. On the one hand it is absolutely clear
that one should continue with the process of reducing strategic arms.
I here would like to stress once again that the leadership of Russia
is a staunch supporter and has all intentions to see the START II
treaty ratified and to launch the negotiating process in connection
with START III. We believe it quite realistic to reach a considerably
lower level of nuclear weapons. And regarding the ABM Treaty, as
Secretary Albright has just mentioned, it represents a core of the
strategic stability. Should this core be disrupted, then the strategic
stability could also be disrupted. That is why we attach such great
importance to this issue. And today, during our discussions tonight,
we will comprehensively develop and explore the matter.

QUESTION: The last time that you two met together face-to-face I
believe was at Singapore, the ARF forum, at which point you signed an
agreement about the transfer of a hotline between the two ministries.
And things seemed to be looking up after the tension that existed over
Kosovo. I'm wondering if that easing of tension has been badly
affected by the investigation into the scandal and corruption and
money laundering? And also for the Foreign Minister, you mentioned
that you would be talking about separatism, terrorism and other
extremism, wondering if your government is not pleased with the United
States' public stance on what is happening in Dagestan, if you would
like them to take a stronger stance or not?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say that, and it's evident from Foreign
Minister Ivanov's earlier answer, that we both take very seriously the
problems raised by allegations of corruption and money laundering. But
I also must say that, from my perspective, I don't think that it has
affected relations. In fact, before I left on my trip, the Foreign
Minister and I had a conversation about this. And he was the one who
volunteered the fact that they were going to send a team over to work
with our law enforcement officials, as he just mentioned. It's very
comfortable for me to say that I think that Foreign Minister Ivanov
and I probably have as many conversations by phone as any two foreign
ministers. We don't agree on everything, but we have excellent
discussions. And I think it's a sign of the importance that both of us
attach to our relationship. And as we both have mentioned, we have a
very long agenda for this evening, and I personally always look
forward to our working dinners.

FOREIGN MINISTER IVANOV: (English translation) I would like to add
that there indeed exists a hotline between the two administrations.
The last time we had a talk was when Secretary Albright was in
Jerusalem and I was in Yerevan. It was then when we agreed on a trip
by our experts to Washington. And I stressed during that conversation
that the more active contacts on all levels is focused on the further
development of our dialogue and better understanding -- trust.

And trust envisages discussions, discussions of all issues, including
the difficult ones.

Incidentally, during the last telephone conversation between the two
presidents, they also discussed the issue of corruption.

As to the developments in Dagestan, in our view the position of the
U.S. administration is a clear cut one and absolutely transparent. So
at issue here, the separatists' activities, this is an internal matter
of Russia. I would like to stress in this connection once again, that
separatists do not have nationality, do not defend any national flags
or colors. This is a problem, an issue, that many countries face and,
indeed, an entire world community faces. Here indeed one needs both
understanding, interaction, and cooperation in order to fight a common
-- an evil that faces the entire world.

QUESTION: (English Translation) A question to Secretary Albright:
Since I'm almost sure that the Kosovo issue will be discussed tonight,
how in your view realistic is this threat of secession of Kosovo from

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, you are right I'm sure that Kosovo will come
up tonight. We have talked about it, and I must say that we have -- I
am planning to make very clear to the Foreign Minister how we
appreciate the role that the Russian forces have been playing and
their work within KFOR. And we are currently working with the UN
operation there, in order to work out a way for the local authorities
of Kosovo to work with the UN operation in a way that will permit the
people of Kosovo to be able to have control over their daily lives.
The issue of secession is not one that is currently on the table.

I'm sure we'll talk about here, and we'll talk about when we're in New
York, is how the civil administration that is being run by the United
Nations -- how it is evolving, how the local people are cooperating
with it, and basically an attempt to let the people of Kosovo not be
under a very oppressive rule from Belgrade.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much.

(end transcript)