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Monday, 14 February, 2000, 23:20 GMT
Clinton: US can do business with Putin

Clinton online Mr Clinton has given his first interview online


In his first online news interview President Bill Clinton has said the United States could "do business" with acting Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

Answering questions sent in by internet, President Clinton said Mr Putin was obviously highly intelligent and capable of being a very strong and effective leader.


If she [Hillary Clinton] is criticised, if someone says something that is just flat-out wrong, then that drives me nuts
President Clinton on his wife's Senatorial election campaign
"Based on what I have seen so far, I think the United States can do business with this man," he said during the live interview online with American news organisation CNN.

His remarks echo former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's initial assessment of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s.

However, Mr Clinton criticised what he called Russian excesses in Chechnya. He also accused Chechen rebel forces of wanting to see civilians attacked because they thought it would help their political position.

Middle East

Putin President Clinton gave a positive assessment of Vladimir Putin
On the Middle East peace process, Mr Clinton warned of the dangers of delay and said there would have to be some forward progress in the next few weeks.

He also said that one of the best things the United States could do for the long-term peace of the Middle East was to have a constructive relationship with Iran.

American elections

Mr Clinton was also asked about the forthcoming American elections and about the Republican presidential candidates John McCain and George W Bush.

Passing on the question, he said he would "leave it to the voters (to comment). Voters almost always get it right."

Mr Clinton has also commented on the criticism his wife, Hillary Clinton, has to endure in her campaign for one of New York's US Senate seats.

"If she is criticised, if someone says something that is just flat-out wrong, then that drives me nuts," he said.

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See also:
31 Jan 00 |  Europe
US warns Russia over Chechnya
01 Jan 00 |  Americas
Look outward, Clinton tells America
14 Jan 00 |  Europe
Russia lowers nuclear threshold

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