Primakov on Peace: 'I Do Not Envy Madeleine.'(Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov; Secretary of State Madeleine Albright)(Interview)

By Weymouth, Lally | Newsweek, September 29, 1997 | Go to article overview

Primakov on Peace: 'I Do Not Envy Madeleine.'(Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov; Secretary of State Madeleine Albright)(Interview)


Weymouth, Lally, Newsweek


Russia's foreign minister declares his country intends to expand its role in the Mideast

YEVGENY PRIMAKOV HAS SET AN ambitious agenda for his trip to the United States this week. In meetings with both President Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Russia's foreign minister plans to discuss the Mideast peace process, arms-control treaties and Bosnia. U.S. officials probably

bring up a few difficult topics themselves: since taking his post in January 1996 Primakov, who formerly headed up Moscow's intelligence service, has revised much of the foreign policy established by his predecessor Andrei Kozyrev. Instead of cooperating with Washington, he has warmed up Moscow's relations with Iran, Iraq and Libya. Primakov discussed these and other issues with NEWSWEEK'S Lally Weymouth last week in Moscow. Excerpts:

WEYMOUTH: The U.S. wants Russia to stop selling technology to Iran that can be used to build a new ballistic missile capable of reaching Europe. What are you doing to stop the export of such technology?

PRIMAKOV: There are no deliveries to Iran from Russia which could lead to the creation by Iran of nuclear weapons or the development of long-range missiles. [The U.S. says it has] evidence that deliveries have been made through nongovernment channels. I must tell you that checks have been carried out, and they have shown that the charges fly in the face of reality. I cannot state that there are no experts in Iran from former republics of the Soviet Union who may be working in certain laboratories. But we are unaware that--if such people do exist--they were involved in the former Soviet Union in the development of specific types of weapon systems. We are building a nuclear power plant in Iran and are supplying that country with light-water reactors--the type that the U.S. is sending to North Korea. But Iran is situated next to our borders. We have no interest in Iran producing missiles or nuclear weapons.

Do you think Albright's trip to the Middle East was successful? Is there a role for Russia in the Middle East peace process?

I do not envy Madeleine Albright--in the sense that she toured the Middle East in rather difficult circumstances. She did all she could given the situation, but no one expected big progress. I think that we can discuss the subject during our meeting in New York. This might be a prelude to a stepped-up role for Russia as a cosponsor in the peace process. There needs to be movement on the Syrian track; otherwise there can be no settlement.

How will Russia react if there is a NATO-led effect to arrest accused war criminals in Bosnia?

I believe that war criminals should appear before a war tribunal. But I think that arresting war criminals through the use of force is not part of the mandate of the multinational force. Such actions might result in clashes with the civilian population, and in huge casualties. And I wouldn't rule out casualties on the part of the multinational force. …

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