Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Clinton Begins Europe Tour to Discuss Defense, Mideast

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Clinton Begins Europe Tour to Discuss Defense, Mideast

Article excerpt

LISBON, Portugal -- Standing on shores where explorers launched voyages of discovery five centuries ago, President Clinton opened a weeklong European journey yesterday saying, "We have a few stormy waters still to navigate." He looked ahead to his first summit with Russia's new president and added Middle East peacemaking to his agenda.

Clinton was told that Russian President Vladimir Putin has not softened his opposition to changing the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty to allow the United States to deploy a national missile defense system.

The president, who will go to Moscow on Saturday, was briefed on Putin's views by Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres who returned Monday from talks with the Russian president and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. Clinton will go to Moscow on Saturday.

Guterres said Putin spoke "in a very frank and open manner" about everything from missile defenses to the war in the rebellious Russian republic of Chechyna, U.S. officials said. But they said there was no change in Russia's oft-stated opposition to U.S. missile defenses.

Russia is not alone in its concern about America's proposed defense system. European allies fear it could divide NATO and prompt Russia and China to bolster their nuclear arsenals. Clinton is to decide before the November elections whether to deploy the missile shield.

Near the entrance to Lisbon's harbor, Clinton was welcomed by a 21-gun salute from a Portuguese frigate. Dozens of Portuguese soldiers wearing camouflage fatigues, berets and white gloves stood in review before Clinton and Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio at the bleached limestone, 16th century Tower of Belem. The monument, with Moorish-style watch towers and battlements, marks the place where Ferdinand Magellan, Vasco de Gama and other explorers set sail.

"Here at this historic point of embarkation, from which Portuguese explorers led an entire continent to see beyond the horizon, we find ourselves again . …

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