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Christopher Hopes To Set Summit Date With Russia On Thursday With AM-US-Mideast, Bjt

February 23, 1993

JERUSALEM (AP) _ Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher hopes to set a date for a U.S.-Russian summit when he meets Thursday with Russia’s foreign minister, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

The goal is to hold President Clinton’s meeting with Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin within eight weeks, at the maximum, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Yeltsin is clinging to a reform program against a growing conservative backlash. He wants to see Clinton as quickly as possible, and is looking for a boost in the $417 million in U.S. technical aid budgeted for Russia and other former Soviet republics this fiscal year.

The administration, too, would like to increase the aid, the officials said. But foreign aid always runs into resistance in Congress, and that is even more likely with the Cold War ended and the House and Senate looking for ways to cut the federal deficit.

Thus, Christopher will not announce there may be a boost in the administration’s aid request and he also is unlikely to promise it to Foreign Minister Andrei V. Kozyrev at their meeting in Geneva, the officials said.

Yeltsin has been seeking an early summit with Clinton since the president’s election last November. And Clinton wants to show support for the Russian leader, the officials said.

Christopher earlier this week disagreed with Richard Armitage, the U.S. aid coordinator, who had questioned Yeltsin’s ability to cope with Russia’s economic problems.

″It is an assessment I do not share,″ Christopher said. ″I think President Yeltsin is the best opportunity the people of Russia have at the present time. We strongly support his leadership.″

The State Department said Monday that Armitage was being replaced.

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