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White House Scolds U.S. Baltic Leaders

January 23, 1991|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A White House spokesman criticized Baltic-American leaders today after they accused President Bush of taking too weak a stance on the Soviet crackdown in the Baltics.

Bush held an unpublicized meeting with a delegation of Lithuanian Americans and other Baltic leaders Tuesday.

The Baltic leaders afterward described it as a contentious session in which one of their number accused Bush of "appeasement" of Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev. They complained that Bush is likely to go ahead with the Feb. 11-13 summit in Moscow.

White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater today reacted sharply to press accounts of that meeting in National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft's office, saying, "Unfortunately, the Baltics put out a totally erroneous story."

Bush "walked in and said he shared their concerns and wanted to listen to whatever they had to say. They did the talking. And then they went out and totally misrepresented his position," said Fitzwater.

Bush "said he shared their views. He stated our policy."

Scowcroft reportedly told the visitors that any strong U.S. action could strengthen the hand of conservative forces in the Soviet Union opposing Gorbachev's reforms.

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