Christopher Promotes Aid to Ex-Soviets

SECRETARY of State Warren Christopher believes personal experience is a valuable tool in foreign policy decisionmaking. So he recently ate a Pentagon Meal-Ready-To-Eat (MRE), the field rations United States planes are now airdropping to besieged Muslims in Bosnia.

"They're nourishing," he said at a breakfast with reporters yesterday. "The one I sampled had four hot dogs in it."

With over 500,000 MREs already delivered to isolated zones surrounded by Serbs, the airdrop has disproved criticism that it would be insignificant, says the secretary of state. "Our pictures indicate people are waiting for them," he said.

With the parties to the Bosnian conflict scheduled to return soon to New York, there is some hope a peace agreement can be reached.

Until a pact is signed it's premature to discuss what shape US involvement in a Balkans peacekeeping force might take, Christopher said.

In other comments at the breakfast, the secretary of state:

* Continued the Clinton administration's campaign of increasing rhetorical support for Russian President Boris Yeltsin. "Others are pretenders compared to the legitimacy he has," said Christopher, since Yeltsin won his spot in a fully free election.

* Admitted that US defense cuts were predicated on a good relationship with a free Russia. Republican lawmakers are already calling for the cuts to be slowed, considering the chaos in the Kremlin. "Perhaps we have been too optimistic that the changes there were irreversible," Christopher said.

* Said the US is doing all it can to get North Korea to reverse its announced decision to pull out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. "As days go by their departure seems a little less definite," he said.

* Defended President Clinton's foreign policy expertise.

Christopher said that in recent days Clinton has been involved in Middle East issues, in pre-paration for the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Yit-zhak Rabin, as well as Haitian and Russian issues.

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