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Russia: Yeltsin And Chechen President Sign Peace Agreement

Moscow, 12 May 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russian president Boris Yeltsin and Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov today signed a peace agreement in the Kremlin. Details of the agreement were not immediately released, but Interfax news agency reports that the document deals with the principles of Russian-Chechen relations.

Russian commercial NTV television said the agreement apparently does not deal with the delicate issue of Chechen independence. According to a precedent agreement signed last year, resolution of this issue has been postponed for five years. Chechen separatists consider their republic independent, but Moscow has repeatedly said Chechnya must remain part of the Russian Federation.

After the signing Yeltsin told journalists he and Maskhadov had signed a "historic document, putting an end to more than 400 years of conflict."

Maskhadov said the Russian and Chechen leaderships have taken the wisest possible decision. He said the people of Russia and Chechnya expected such a step, which he said would guarantee them security and stability.

Yeltsin said that in the future Russia and Chechnya would "promote cooperation only by peaceful means." Yeltsin added this cooperation would take place mainly "in the economic sphere."

Maskhadov is expected to meet Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin later today for further talks focusing on economic issues.