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Council Of Europe To Hold Chechnya Talks

21 March 2005 -- More than 60 people, including representatives of Chechen parties and Moscow-backed politicians, are due to attend roundtable talks on the crisis in the Russian republic of Chechnya today in Strasbourg, France.

Organizers say they hope the meeting will be a step toward developing a plan to end the fighting between Chechen separatist rebels and Russian-backed forces.

The meeting is being organized by the Political Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Participants are expected to include Chechnya's Moscow-backed President Alu Alkhanov, Russia's human rights commissioner Vladimir Lukin, as well as representatives of nongovernmental organizations.

Swiss legislator Andreas Gross, the organizer of the talks, said attendance at the meeting is conditional on participants recognizing the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation and rejecting the use of terrorism.

Gross has called for intensified efforts to achieve peace in Chechnya following the killing by Russian forces of Chechen resistance leader Aslan Maskhadov earlier this month.