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Yeltsin, Kohl Agree on Troops' Pullout Ceremony

May 12, 1994|MARJORIE MILLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

BONN — Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin on Wednesday dropped his objections to German plans for separate farewell ceremonies for the final withdrawal of Allied and Russian troops from Berlin this summer.

In an apparent trade-off, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl gave Yeltsin his strong backing for an enlargement of the Group of Seven into a Group of Eight, including Russia. The G-7 is an organization made up of the world's most powerful economies.

The send-off of Russia's remaining 20,000 troops in Germany has been a prickly issue between the two governments for months. Aiming to assuage Russian feelings that their troops were getting shabby treatment, Kohl bent over backward to embrace his good friend Yeltsin at a news conference on the first day of the Russian leader's three-day visit. Kohl stressed the close, historic ties between Germany and Russia and said a special telephone hot line would be set up between the Chancellery and Kremlin.

The leaders said they would bid farewell to Russian troops together in Berlin on Aug. 31--a compromise, as Kohl had wanted to move half of the ceremony out of Berlin to nearby Weimar and Yeltsin had wanted to be included in a goodby parade with Allied forces to honor their joint defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945.

"It is my special concern that we see off Russian soldiers from Germany in a dignified and respectful manner and that this happens from a spirit of friendship," Kohl said.

He said he wanted to have a Weimar meeting only to emphasize the countries' cultural heritage over its belligerent history in a town that is "the cradle of modern, parliamentary democracy in Germany." Kohl said he and Yeltsin would meet there at a later date with Russian and German cultural figures.

American, British and French troops are to mark their Berlin departure with June 18 celebrations organized by the city and a send-off by the federal government Sept. 8.

The German government and Western allies agreed that Russia should not be included in the Berlin festivities, since the postwar roles of Russian and Allied troops were quite different. Western troops defended West Berlin during the Cold War, while Moscow's troops were effectively an occupying force behind the Communist government in East Germany.

Yeltsin had made clear in a speech Monday that Russia felt it was receiving second-class treatment and that its national pride had been offended.

But on Wednesday, he accepted essentially separate but equal treatment. "I am very satisfied that Helmut Kohl sensed the mood among the Russian people and the mood of the president and that we now came to this result," Yeltsin said. "One should avoid everything that could destabilize the political situation in Russia."

Yeltsin wants to show nationalists back home that he is successfully integrating Moscow into the West, and, to that end, Kohl vowed to campaign for Russia's joining an expanded G-7 at the group's Naples summit this summer. The G-7 now is made up of the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Britain, Italy and Japan.

At Wednesday's news conference, Yeltsin appeared to be edging back toward North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Partnership for Peace, an American proposal for loose cooperation between NATO and former Warsaw Pact countries. Yeltsin said he would agree to sign the agreement if a special protocol for Russia were completed.

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