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Leaders Sign Agreement at Caucasus Summit

Kislovodsk, Russia, June 3 (RFE/RL) -- The presidents of Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia have signed a declaration on cooperation to settle conflicts in the Caucasus region.

The declaration was signed at the Caucasus summit being held today in the southern Russian resort town of Kislovodsk.

Itar-tass quotes Russian President Boris Yeltsin as telling his counterparts that efforts to drive a wedge between Moscow and the Caucasus nations would result in "great tragedy for all."

He called on Armenia's Levon Ter-Petrosyan, Azerbaijan's Heydar Aliyev and Georgia's Eduard Shevardnadze to work jointly to end conflicts in the region.

Yeltsin said restoring peace in the region was a top Russian objective. He said Russia respects the sovereignty of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia and pledged increased cooperation with each Caucasus nation.

Yeltsin called for further efforts to repatriate refugees, saying conditions must be improved to allow for displaced persons to return to their former homes.

The conference was expected to focus on the 18-month conflict in Chechnya. but Azerbaijan and Armenia are involved in a protracted territorial dispute over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, while Georgia confronts separatists in its Black Sea province of Abkhazia.