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Russia: Yeltsin Meeting With Chechen President To Take Place Soon

Moscow, 11 August 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Russian presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky says President Boris Yeltsin and Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov are expected to meet in Moscow soon.

Interfax quotes Yastrzhembsky today as saying the two presidents will "closely examine" problems hindering oil and banking agreements recently signed by Russian and Chechen officials. He added Yeltsin and Maskhadov may also discuss the conclusion of a power sharing agreement between Moscow and Grozny. Yastrzhembky did not give a precise date for the meeting. But Chechen Vice President Vakha Arsanov told Itar-Tass today Yeltsin and Maskhadov should meet in a third country and not in Moscow. He said Belarus or Azerbaijan are the most suitable venues.

Meanwhile the deadline set by President Maskhadov for the voluntary release of all hostages abducted by Chechen kidnappers expired yesterday. Under Maskhadov's decree, starting today, kidnappers who are caught will be punished with execution or life imprisonement.

Yesterday, Maskhadov's spokesman in Grozny said the Chechen president plans to propose a full-scale bilateral treaty between the Caucasus republic and Russia at the talks.

The spokesman, Kazbek Khadzhiyev, told reporters such a treaty would imply the establishment of diplomatic relations and the opening of embassies in Moscow and Grozny. When Yeltsin invited Maskhadov to Moscow for negotiations, the Russian leader stressed treaty talks would focus only on a power-sharing agreement.

Russian Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin traveled to Grozny last week to lay the groundwork for the meeting. Yesterday, Rybkin told journalists that Russian-Chechen relations were adequate for solving all problems.