Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Albright Finds Yeltsin Mentally `Very Sharp' at Meeting in Moscow

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Albright Finds Yeltsin Mentally `Very Sharp' at Meeting in Moscow

Article excerpt

* The secretary of state would not discuss the Russian leader's physical condition. She said after their meeting that Russia may agree to having a "voice, not a veto" in NATO affairs.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright found Russian President Boris Yeltsin "at the top of his game" Friday during a visit.

One of the few outsiders to see Yeltsin during his recovery from heart surgery, Albright declined to characterize his physical appearance during their 50-minute meeting. But mentally, she said, "he was totally engaged. He was very sharp, knowing exactly what he wanted to achieve." Without giving up their opposition to an enlarged military alliance, Russian leaders suggested they would settle for a "voice, not a veto," in NATO affairs, Albright said. Yeltsin's spokesman, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, said, "It would be premature to say that a breakthrough was achieved at Russia-U.S. talks on the question of NATO enlargement. One can only express cautious optimism." Yeltsin has been absent from public view since heart surgery in November and pneumonia last month. He looked thin but walked briskly and exchanged hearty pleasantries with the multilingual Albright. When an interpreter tried to translate his comments into English, Yeltsin waved him off and said, "She understands Russian. She doesn't need translation." In fact, Albright did not use translation for 20 minutes of their meeting. "It is no longer `us vs. you' or `you vs. us,' " Albright said at a news conference with Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov. "We are on the same side." Visiting Washington, Russian Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov dismissed U.S. efforts to ease Russian fears over NATO. Zyuganov, a member of the Russian parliament, said if NATO expanded, "it will completely undermine all previous disarmament treaties." Zyuganov, who finished second in last year's presidential elections, has been telling government and business officials on his U. …

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