U.S. Plans No Changes in Policy for Russia's New Foreign Minister

Article excerpt

State Department officials and others are playing down reports that Yevgeny Primakov, a Cold War hard-liner, will force a dramatic U-turn in Russian policy as the new foreign minister.

Mr. Primakov's appointment Tuesday was welcomed by the Communist Party, which emerged as the most popular political force in parliamentary elections last month.

It also prompted some U.S. analysts to predict a change in the policy of strategic cooperation with Russia that President Bush established and President Clinton continued.

But State Department officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity said yesterday they expect business as usual in their dealings with Moscow.

The sources said no special re-evaluation of Russia policy had been called for since Mr. Primakov's appointment.

"Our assumption is that President Yeltsin has chosen someone he believes will carry out his policies," one source said. "But the policy course is likely to remain as it has been set."

Alexander Yanov, an expert on Russian politics at City University of New York, said Mr. Primakov is above all else a professional who will carry out any policy assigned him.

"I have known him for many years," Mr. Yanov said. "He is tough. He will be forceful in carrying out what he sees as his country's best interests. But he has never shown any inclination to brinkmanship. . . . I don't believe he belongs in any way to the extreme, anti-Western, nationalist opposition."

Secretary of State Warren Christopher will meet with Mr. Primakov early next month, State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said. Mr. Burns said Mr. Christopher proposed the meeting during an introductory telephone call to Mr. Primakov from Jerusalem yesterday morning. Mr. …