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March 20, 1997 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-03-20

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IOA - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 20, 1997


Yeltsin to
The Washington Post
HELSINKI, Finland -- it all began
innocently enough: an American-
Ukrainian naval exercise planned for
this summer off Ukraine's Black Sea
coast -- not the first such maneuver
and very likely not the last.
But before the plans for Operation
Sea Breeze have even been finalized, it
has blown up into a serious point of
friction in U.S.-Russian relations and a
symbol of Moscow's deepening distrust
of American intentions.
President Boris Yeltsin and other
Russian officials have seized on Sea
Breeze, in which U.S.-led forces would
land on Ukraine's strategically sensitive
Crimean Peninsula, as evidence that
Washington's soothing assurances of
partnership and cooperation cannot be
trusted. Washington insists the ficti-
tious scenario for Sea Breeze - a
humanitarian mission in relief of an
earthquake and armed unrest - is
entirely innocent.
The Americans say the exercise is "in
the-spirit of" NATO's Partnership for
Peace plan and point out that the
Russians were invited to participate,
along with Britain, France, Germany,
Itafy, Turkey and other European states.
Whatever the case, the flap over Sea
Breeze, which Russian officials say
Yeltsin may - raise with President
Clinton when the two meet in Helsinki
starting tomorrow, has become
emblematic of the rut of distrust and
conflicting perceptions these days in
U.S.-Russian relations.
In their first face-to-face encounter in
nearly a year, how Clinton and Yeltsin
manage the atmospherics of that dis-
trust may be just as important to the
outcome of the summit as whatever
substantive progress they make on a
host gf security, arms control and eco-
non,Ai _questions.
On both sides there is a sense that the
"Bill and Boris Show," a festival of
friendship that has anchored Russian-
Amrican relations through 10 summits
in four years, may be headed for its
rockiest stretch.
"No, Yeltsin's not going to pound on
the table,' said Igor Malashenko, a
Russian television executive and infor-




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Netanyahu offers
to wrap up peace
pact in 6 months





A police vehicle stands outside the presidential palace In Helsinki, Finland, yesterday, where President Clinton and Russian
President Boris Yeltsin will be guests at an informal dinner hosted by Finnish President Ahtisaari today.

mal public-relations adviser to Yeltsin.
"But he could say very confidently that
we're not going to accept what the
Americans want just because they want
Said Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright, who tried without evident
signs of progress to massage the issue
this week with Russian Foreign
Minister Yevgeny Primakov: "We know
it will take time for the process of trust
to catch up with the process of change."
The Helsinki summit will address a
handful of irritants that have festered in

North Atlantic Treaty Organization,
which plans this summer to invite
Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic
and possibly other countries to join.
NATO expansion is, in fact, one of the
very few issues on which Russian
reformers, Communists and hard-line
nationalists all agree.
They are united not only in their con-
viction that NATO's expansion would
exclude Russia from the European club
of nations and draw a new dividing line
through the continent's heart. They also
are in accord, albeit to varying degrees,
in their
growing dis-
it will take trust of
W e s t e r n
proCess of intentions.
To many
h up with in Yeltsin's
Kremlin and
of c$hang. the Russian

Russian -
relations in
the past year:
nuclear -
w e a p o n s
ambition to
join various
clubs of lead-
ing industri-
a l i z e d

We know
time for the
trust to catc
the process

hosts for the event, scheduled for Aug.
26-31. Under that scenario, a separatist
revolt by an unnamed "ethnically based
party" is threatening the integrity of
Ukraine. The separatists are backed by
an unnamed "neighboring country."
That scenario was rejected out of
hand in Washington, where military
planners realized it was political dyna-
mite. They proposed an alternative
scenario for Operation Sea Breeze, in
which civil unrest by unidentified
"armed factions" is triggered by an
earthquake. The Ukrainian govern-
ment then calls for a multinational
peacekeeping force and humanitarian
aid, and a U.S.-led naval convoy rush-
es to the rescue to provide medicine,
blankets and evacuation for the
But it was already too late. The orig-
inal, rejected plan was leaked to the
Russians and set off loud alarm bells in
Moscow, where it was painfully obvi-
ous that the unnamed "ethnically based
party" must be Crimean Russians who
chafe under Ukrainian rule, and the
"neighboring country" must be Russia
In other words, the Russians conclud-
ed, Washington was actively planning a
major naval exercise in which the main
enemy was Russia. Not only that, but
the exercise was scheduled to take place
just weeks after a scheduled NATO
meeting in Madrid this July, in which
the alliance is expected to issue mem-
bership invitations to former Soviet
allies in central Europe.

Netanyahu's verbal
suggestion is met
with suspicion by
Palestinian officials
Los Angeles Times
JERUSALEM -' Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has
made an informal offer to Palestinian
Authority President Yasser Arafat to try
to conclude a final peace agreement
within six months, bypassing the
remaining steps of their interim
But the verbal proposal, conveyed to
the Palestinian leader this week by
Jordan's King Hussein, was greeted with
suspicion at Arafat's Gaza City head-
quarters. Palestinian officials said they
believed Israel was attempting to press
ahead with negotiations to avoid obliga-
tions dictated by their existing peace
deals, known as the Oslo agreements.
"I think (Netanyahu) is trying to tell
us he doesn't want the Oslo accords any
more," said Saeb Erekat, a top
Palestinian negotiator. "He's trying to
change the terms of reference for the
peace process."
The proposal came late yesterday
night amid deep mutual distrust and
anger between Israel and the
Palestinians, one day after Israel broke
ground on a controversial new neigh-
borhood in historically Arab East
Jerusalem. Palestinians say the con-
struction of 6,500 homes for Jews can-
not help but impede talks on the future
status of the Holy City.
Despite warnings of violence, work
proceeded peacefully yesterday. The
Israeli Supreme Court turned down
requests by Israeli peace activists and
Arab landowners to halt the construc-
tion. And demonstrations in two West
Bank communities were quiet.
Netanyahu first floated the idea for
accelerated talks with the Palestinians
in a speech to Israeli lawmakers last
fall. But he was roundly criticized by
former Prime -Minister Shimon Peres,
who accused him of employing delay-
ing tactics and of being insincere in his
approach to the peace negotiations.
In the current proposal, Netanyahu
told the Palestinians - through
Hussein - that he would try to com-

plete "final status" talks on the West
Bank and Gaza Strip two years earlier
than planned, according to a source in
his office.
The offer would involve bypassing
implementation of the interim Israeli-
Palestinian agreements, including three
scheduled troop withdrawals from the
West Bank, and moving directly to di
cussions of the last and most sensitiv
issues between them: refugees, Jewish
settlements, borders and Jerusalem.
"The idea is that since every step of
the way seems to create less confidence
and more irritation between us, it might
be best to just sit down and try to dis-
cuss the final status and see where we
get," an Israeli official said.
But the Palestinians' "quick dismissa
of the suggestion underscored the pr
found distrust that has developed since
Netanyahu and his right-religious coali-
tion came to power-in June, ousting the
Palestinians' Labor Party peace partners.
The new partners have managed to
reach several agreements of their own;
including the accord in January to with-
draw Israeli troops from Hebron. But
each step along the way has been ardu-
Under a timetable laid out in a
addendum to the Hebron agreement
Israel was to have completed the first of
three scheduled troop withdrawals from
the West Bank by March 7. But the
Palestinians, angered by a planned pull-
out that fell short of expectations,
refused to accept the hand-over. The
other two withdrawals are to be com-
pleted by mid-1998.
Negotiators were also scheduled to
resume the final status talks o
Monday, but neither side showed u*
apparently because of tensions over the
construction plans. Those negotiations
are scheduled to end in 1999.
Israeli and Palestinian sources said
the proposal to accelerate the peace
process was conveyed to Arafat soon
after Hussein met with Netanyahu
Sunday in Jerusalem. Netanyahu
promised that in the event of failure, he
would return to the interim negotia-
tions, the Israeli official said.
Erekat, who had met Tuesday with
Israeli Cabinet Secretary Dani Naveh to
discuss the offer, said he could find
nothing positive in it.

Yevgeny Primakov
n Foreign Minister

tion to
alliance closer


nations, limits on conventional weapons
in Europe.
Most of all, what the Americans want
at the two-day Helsinki summit is some
progress toward a deal under which
Moscow will accept the West's plans to
expand its main security umbrella,
NATO, into the territories of former
Soviet allies in central Europe.
So far, almost every serious foreign-
policy figure in Moscow has spoken out
vehemently against the expansion of the

extend its main military

to Russia's borders is proof that the
West is more interested in taking advan-
tage of Moscow's current weakness
than in helping in a time of need.
Given that mindset, reports of
Operation Sea Breeze have done noth-
ing but inflame the paranoia and bad
blood in Moscow.
As far as is known, the genesis of the
outcry over Sea Breeze was an early
scenario drawn up by the Ukrainian



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