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Wednesday, December 3, 1997 Published at 10:58 GMT



World: Monitoring

Russian media reports on Yeltsin's pledge to cut troops
image: [ Yeltsin: wants
Yeltsin: wants "regime of trust" in Baltic region

The Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who is currently visiting Sweden, has pledged to make unilateral cuts of over 40% to land and naval forces in northwest Russia by January 1, 1999, the Russian news agency Interfax reported on Wednesday.

Mr Yeltsin said Russia would make the reductions to strengthen security in the Baltic region.

ITAR-TASS news agency said Mr Yeltsin has suggested that a "regime of trust" be introduced in the Baltic border region and the Baltic Sea area.

He also suggested that a telephone hotline be set up between the Military Command in Russia's Kaliningrad Region and the countries of the Baltic region.

The Russian President spoke about the possibility of "agreeing on the procedure for visiting military sites" and proposed that this "should go beyond the boundaries defined" by the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe, Interfax news agency said.

"We propose that air space in the Baltic region should be controlled jointly and that military transport aviation should take part in joint exercises," Mr Yeltsin told the Swedish parliament.

"We are also prepared to improve cooperation in measures to prevent natural and man-made disasters and eliminate their consequences," he added.

On his proposal to make unilateral cuts of over 40% to land and naval forces in northwest Russia by January 1, 1999, Mr Yeltsin said these forces would not include "combined-arms armies, corps and divisions".

"I am sure the Baltic region will inevitably become a region of firm trust, stability and security," he said.

Yeltsin on OSCE security role

President Boris Yeltsin told Swedish MPs that the Organisation on Security and Cooperation in Europe should be the foundation of European security, the Russian news agency Interfax reported.

He said the world remained far from perfect, even in Europe "where the mechanisms to ensure security are most developed".

"I am convinced that only an organisation embracing all European countries can become the foundation of a solid security system," Mr Yeltsin said. "The OSCE is such an organisation".

He said the future European Security Charter would help strengthen peace and stability and should be worked out without delay.

He noted that the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Russia and the European Union came into force two days ago:

"This event brings us close to the creation of a Greater Europe. It opens opportunities for forming pan-European space. I am certain we all realize that the building of the Greater Europe will be solid if all floors, including ours, the Baltic one, are solid," he said.

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.






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