27 April 1998


Monday, April 27, 1998
Briefer:  James B. Foley



2 Status of START II in the Wake of PM Kiriyenko's Nomination by the
Russian Duma


Q: I have a question about Russia and the situation in parliament
there. How much concern is there about the threatened retaliation by
the Russian Duma against President Yeltsin basically backing them
against a wall on confirming his Prime Minister? Are you worried about
the possibility that they would slow down, for example, ratification

MR. FOLEY: Well, I would - I'm not familiar with recent reporting of
statements by Duma members in the wake of the confirmation of Mr.
Kiriyenko as Prime Minister. As you know, on Friday, we welcomed his
approval by the Duma. I believe Vice President Gore also spoke with
the new Prime Minister and looked forward to continuing the commission
that's been doing good work over these years. So we're rather
optimistic about the prospects, at least to continue close cooperation
between the United States and Russia on a range of issues.

President Yeltsin, as well as his new Prime Minister, have reiterated
their support for continuing to pursue economic reforms at home and
the basis thrust of Russian foreign policy, cooperation with the
United States and other western nations abroad. So we don't see any
change in Russian Government conditions, per se.

Your question has more to do with the Duma in that, insofar as the
START II ratification is concerned, we've seen even the chairman, or
the Speaker of the Duma before the Kiriyenko nomination was approved
coming out in favor of early ratification of the treaty. We think it's
in the interest of both the United States and Russia, and the Russian
Government itself is committed to pursuing ratification. If the
speaker of the Duma himself is endorsing it and urging an early vote
in favor, I think there are reasons to be optimistic. But we will have
to see how the situation plays out. I think the next step is Prime
Minister Kiriyenko has to name a new government; I believe that's
expected this week, so it's premature to comment on what the
legislative calendar may be in the weeks ahead.


(end transcript)