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Duma Calls on Yeltsin to Hold Peace Talks with Chechens

Moscow, July 19 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's State Duma called today on President Boris Yeltsin to hold urgent peace talks with Chechen separatists. The lower house of the Russian parliament approved a resolution, demanding talks to be held and to be shown live on Russian television.

Our Moscow correspondent reports 272 deputies voted in favor of the document. It required at least 225 votes to be adopted.

Duma deputy Yuly Rybakov, who initiated the resolution, said Yeltsin has to stop the conflict in the breakaway region.

He also said Yeltsin should also determine why fighting resumed in the breakaway republic after a ceasefire between Russian forces and Chechen separatists was reached during the presidential election campaign.

Yeltsin's reaction to the resolution is not known.

Meanwhile, Interfax news agency reports that Russian troops continued today to carry out special air and artillery operations against Chechen separatist fighters in the Southern Chechen region of Vedeno. There is no word of Russian or Chechen casualities.

Russian officials in Chechnya say they are trying to renew peacetalks with Chechen field commanders, in an attempt to restore the cease-fire. Interfax quotes Russian senior Russian negotiator Sergei Stepashin as saying that talks are expected to resume soon, with the mediation of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.