Yeltsin and Jiang cement new alliance with vision of "multi polar" world order


IN A diplomatic love fest overtly directed at a Western audience, Presidents Boris Yeltsin and Jiang Zemin hastily proclaimed yesterday a new "multi polar" world order in which both Russia and China set themselves against Washington's claim to be the only superpower.

After the two leaders signed a joint declaration which the Russians described as a breakthrough in the troubled relations between Moscow and Beijing, Mr Yeltsin appeared temporarily to abandon his long touted special relationship with the US President, Mr Bill Clinton. Looking grim and in some physical discomfort, the Russian President said at a short news conference after the signing: "Someone is longing for a single polar world. He wants to decide things himself."

"We have not signed such a document with any other country," Mr Yeltsin (66), added in televised remarks later.

Although officials of Russia and China said their joint declaration was not aimed at establishing a counterblock to NATO, the political message of the new found friendship was clear.

The joint declaration was quite specific about the enlargement of NATO. It said: "Both sides express concern over the attempt at enlarging and strengthening military blocs, because such a tendency may pose a threat to the security of some countries and aggravate regional and global tension."

It similarly warned against Western countries use of UN peacekeeping forces as a surrogate for their own forces: "Peacekeeping operations can be undertaken only by the decision of the UN Security Council and with the approval of the countries concerned, and in strict compliance with the Security Council man date and its supervision," the joint declaration said.

In Washington, meanwhile, the US Secretary of State, Ms Madeleine Albright, lobbying for NATO expansion at the Senate armed services committee, said the alliance would not give absolute assurances to Russia about stationing nuclear and conventional forces on new members' territory.

Mr Sergei Yastrzhembsky, Mr Yeltsin's spokesman, said that the Russian President's talks with President Jiang were part of Moscow's search for new allies to "diversify a foreign policy based mainly on the West.

Mr Yastrzhembsky said Mr Yeltsin had expressed satisfaction in his talks with President Jiang with what he called positive developments in a "triangle" of Russia, China and India. The Chinese version of events in Moscow was similarly anti Western. The Chinese official Xinhua news agency noted the declaration in saying: "No country should seek hegemony, practise power politics or monopolise international affairs."

The declaration comes after a breakthrough was achieved in Russia and China's longstanding border dispute. A treaty will be signed today between the Chinese President, Mr Yeltsin and the Presidents of the central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan about troop reductions.

Details of the reductions have been kept secret in Russia for tear of further arousing nationalist feeling in Primorski Krai, the Far Eastern district closest to China, which has been swamped by Chinese traders.

Reuter adds from, St Petersburg: Mr Yeltsin has suffered a bout of flu, but his heart is "perfectly normal", Mr Michael DeBakey, the US cardiologist who advised on the Russian President's heart surgery, said yesterday.

Asked about Mr Yeltsin's shaky physical performance during a visit to Germany last week, Dr DeBakey answered: "No, no. He is doing very well. He developed flu and of course he had to recover from it. His heart is perfectly normal. He is leading a normal life.

Mr Yeltsin had major had surgery last November and suffered from double pneumonia in January.