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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release July 6, 1999
                    TO MEET IN EXECUTIVE SESSION OF 

Washington, DC -- Vice President Al Gore today announced he will meet with Russian Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin in Washington on July 27 in an Executive Session of the U.S.-Russian Joint Commission on Economic and Technological Cooperation. The two leaders finalized the date and discussed plans for the meeting in a phone call Monday.

The Commission meeting will mark Stepashin's first trip to Washington since becoming Prime Minister. He is expected to bring the top members of his economic team and to visit executives of several major U.S. corporations before arriving in Washington.

"I am looking forward to meeting with Prime Minister Stepashin and resuming the work of the Joint Commission," Gore said. "The Commission has been valuable not only in helping us achieve common U.S.-Russia objectives, but also in building relationships that have helped us expand our areas of agreement and open channels we can draw on during periods of disagreement."

The U.S.-Russian Joint Commission was established in 1993 by Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin to promote partnership between the United States and Russia based on shared values of democracy and human rights, market economics and the rule of law, and global peace and stability.

The Commission is made up of ten committees or working groups -- each co-chaired by senior U.S. and Russian officials -- in areas as diverse as business development, energy, environment, health, and science and technology. Since the Commission's founding, it has helped reduce Russian trade barriers for U.S. products; promote cooperation in space; expand U.S. investment in the Russian energy sector; and convert to civilian use military facilities formerly used in the production of weapons of mass destruction.

The July session will mark the first meeting of the Commission since July of 1998. The last scheduled meeting of the Commission, planned for March 23-25 in Washington, was postponed when Russian Prime Minister Primakov turned his plane back toward Moscow after learning from Vice President Gore that the last U.S. diplomatic overture to Belgrade had failed, and that NATO air strikes were imminent. The NATO air campaign began the next day.

Gore and Stepashin spoke several times over the phone toward the close of the Kosovo conflict. In their first call -- following the Serb Parliament's acceptance of NATO's peace plan -- the Prime Minister told the Vice President he stood ready to resume the work of the Joint Commission.

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