The Clinton administration rallied to Boris Yeltsin’s side, saying the embattled Russian president “looked strong and in control” Thursday in a parliament speech closely watched for any signs of political weakness.
“I think on balance the speech certain reaffirms our view that Boris Yeltsin is in charge of Russian policy and remains committed to reform,” White House press secretary Mike McCurry said.
While offering strong support for the Russian leader, however, the administration continued to hedge on whether President Clinton would accept Yeltsin’s invitation for a May summit in Moscow, coinciding with celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the allied victory over Nazi Germany.
“It’s a matter of scheduling, it’s a matter of what is the status of the bilateral relationship,” McCurry said.
While saying the United States is seriously concerned about Russia’s use of force in the breakaway republic of Chechnya, McCurry said, “There’s no particular litmus test of issues that we apply” in the timing of a summit.