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DATE=12/7/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=CLINTON - CHECHNYA (L) NUMBER=2-256935 BYLINE=DAVID GOLLUST DATELINE=WHITE HOUSE CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The Clinton Administration has renewed its warning to Russia that it will pay a price in the international arena if it carries out its threat to kill civilians who fail to leave the Chechen capital of Grozny by Saturday. President Clinton discussed the situation in the Caucasus with NATO Secretary-General George Robertson. V-O-A's David Gollust reports from the White House. TEXT: Mr. Robertson told reporters he and the President discussed ways the NATO allies might back up their demands that Moscow desist from seeking a military solution in Chechnya. He declined to give specifics, saying that is for the various governments to decide. But he said there is broad agreement in the alliance that Russia's military offensive in Chechnya is disproportionate and counter- productive. At the same time, however, the former British defense minister said NATO members understand the dilemma Moscow faces in Chechnya. He said their criticism should be seen as constructive advice, and not hostility: /// ROBERTSON ACTUALITY /// They have serious problems in Chechnya, of lawlessness, of banditry, of a collapse of law and order. And they are reacting in a way that we don't think makes much sense in dealing with a problem that we believe is a serious one and one with which we sympathize. / /// END ACT /// White House spokesman Joe Lockhart, meanwhile, repeated Mr. Clinton's warning Monday that Russia's leaders will "pay a price" for pursuing policies that isolate them from the international community. Yet he appeared to downplay the notion there might be early economic sanctions. Mr. Lockhart said the next installment of International Monetary Fund assistance is already being withheld because of Russia's failure to meet economic reform requirements. He said he doubted that it would make sense for the Administration to halt bilateral aid programs, which he said are tailored to advance U-S interests. /// LOCKHART ACTUALITY /// The vast majority of that aid goes to reducing their nuclear threat. And I don't know, at this point ,the productivity of removing that assistance. I also don't know the productivity of removing the assistance that we give outside of Moscow that promotes democracy. Again, I don't think this is a situation where you want to undermine your own national security to make some kind of statement. /// END ACT /// Mr. Lockhart said President Clinton is very concerned about the plight of Chechens who have either been driven from their homes by Russian forces or are afraid to leave them. He said he did not know if the treatment of the Chechens amounts to Balkan-style "ethnic-cleansing" - but said the distinction is probably lost on those he said are facing a "humanitarian crisis."(Signed) NEB/DAG/gm 07-Dec-1999 14:17 PM EDT (07-Dec-1999 1917 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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