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Russia: U.S. Welcomes Election Preparations In Chechnya

Washington, 7 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - The U.S. State Department says it welcomes progress in preparing for elections in Chechnya following the withdrawal of Russian troops from the region over the weekend.

The elections are set for three weeks from yesterday. U.S. spokesman Nicholas Burns says the United States sees the elections for a parliament as an important part of the process of reconciliation.

Chechen separatists waged war against Russian troops for almost two years in an effort to gain independence from the Russian Federation. A peace agreement worked out during the summer gives the Chechens more autonomy but not independence.

Burns says the United States hopes the elections will be another step toward establishing democratic rule and stability.