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Chechnya: EU Officials In Moscow For Talks With Putin

Moscow, 7 April 2000 (RFE/RL) - Top European Union officials meet today in Moscow with President-elect Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov for talks expected to focus on Chechnya and Russia's relations with the EU. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama lead the EU delegation. The EU is pressing for an end to the Chechen war and independent investigations into allegations of human rights abuses by Russian troops. Yesterday, the Council of Europe's parliamentary assembly called for Russia's suspension from the council and withdrew the Russian deputies' right to vote. The Russian delegation walked out of the assembly to protest the decision to suspend its voting rights. The assembly decided by a large majority to start the process of suspending Russia's membership. The assembly voted on a proposal to ask the council's member nations to suspend Russia's membership if Moscow does not agree to a ceasefire in Chechnya and begin talks with Chechen leaders immediately. It said the procedure should start without delay.