In 1996, the presidents of the U.S. and Russia chatted like old pals, talking about grouse hunting, dancing with women, and keeping in shape. A series of documents made available by the Clinton Digital Library Thursday contain meticulously kept transcripts of conversations between former President Bill Clinton and former Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
The conversations transcribed in the nearly 600 page document show an easy friendship between the two world leaders that transitioned from topic to topic easily.
“I noticed that you’ve gotten thinner. But you need to eat something,” Clinton joked.
Yeltsin replied, discussing his dinner, “I do not eat a lot in the morning or at night; during the day I eat, certainly.I eat about half of (what I’m served). This is roast duck (pointing to what is being served). People thought all grouse had been shot under Khrushchev. This is a small one. They were hunted all over the Soviet Union. Some did manage to survive, however, and now they are growing in number… Kruschev hunted them year-round. There is no grouse season any more.”
Shortly thereafter, their talk shifted to more serious matters, with Yeltsin sharing that he “warn[s] people not to believe” a recent U.S. press campaign spoke about communists as “good, honorable, and kind people.”
At a private dinner ahead of a Moscow visit by the Indian Prime Minister, Clinton urged Yeltsin to hold up the friendly relationship between the U.S. and Russia as an example of what India and China, or India and Pakistan could do.
In May of 1998, the former presidents met in England for a lengthy conversation that touched on a wide range of issues, from NATO to India to Iran. The easy-going, friendly manner between the two was on display when Yeltsin jokingly handed over a stack of notes, saying, “I’ve got a lot of things that my people have prepared me to talk about.” In response, Clinton handed over his pile, while nearby diplomats gasped with mock horror.
Yeltsin later reflected on their relationship. “You and I have an excellent relationship, Bill — more than just a friendship. It’s what I would call co-leadership.”
Another transcript shows Yeltsin lamenting the exhausting pace of the election cycle. Clinton complimented his appearance at recent event, joking “I saw the picture of you dancing with the girls in the band and you looked wonderful. I’m disappointed that no one sets up events like that for me in my campaign.”
The document ends in 1999 when Yeltsin was unseated by current Russian President Vladimir Putin. He also enjoys a close relationship with the sitting U.S. president, as reported by the Inquisitr.