When he meets Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin this weekend, President Clinton may offer U.S. aid to help build housing for demobilized Russian soldiers, Secretary of State Warren Christopher said Tuesday.
Russia has slowed the withdrawal of troops from the Baltic republics, other parts of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe because it lacks housing and jobs for the returning troops, Christopher said.
“That’s a big problem that we have to try to help the Russians deal with, because there’s every interest on our part as well as theirs on getting those soldiers back home and getting them into the work force in some way,” Christopher told the Senate Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on foreign operations. “It’s clear that we should not portray it either there or here as charity but as a shared endeavor program.”
In response to questions from committee members, Christopher also said that the Administration is considering debt relief for the Russian economy, which is swamped by unpaid loans dating from the Soviet period.
On other topics, Christopher:
* Said the Administration is consulting with its allies about ways to toughen international sanctions against Libya, perhaps by imposing a worldwide oil embargo, to pressure Moammar Kadafi’s regime to surrender two intelligence operatives accused of planning the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, at the end of 1989.
He conceded that many nations want to continue lucrative trade with Libya, but he said more action is needed because Kadafi has defied a U.N. Security Council resolution ordering him to turn over the suspects.
* Labeled Iran “an international outlaw” because of its support for terrorism. Although Christopher did not cite any specific steps, he said that “we’ll take whatever action we can to try to persuade our allies” to distance themselves from the Tehran government.
* Expressed optimism that the military government in Haiti will soon permit the return of deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. “I don’t want to declare a victory by any means, but there’s been an enhanced activity . . . and I’m much more hopeful about that situation than I was a couple of weeks ago,” he said.
* Insisted that the Administration will not lift sanctions against Iraq as long as President Saddam Hussein retains power. Although Clinton hopes to “depersonalize” relations, Christopher said, “we have not relented; we have not softened our position with respect to Iraq or Saddam Hussein.”