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Russia: Maskhadov Says Chechens Can Protect Pipeline

Washington, 19 November 1997 (RFE/RL) - The president of Russia's breakaway Chechen region says his government can protect an international pipeline carrying Caspian Sea oil from Azerbaijan to a Russian terminal on the Black Sea.

Aslan Maskhadov says an agreement that Chechnya signed with Azerbaijan and Russia, and the estimated $800,000 his government will earn from the pipeline this year, are proof that Chechens can guarantee the security of the pipeline.

The line was damaged in the Chechen's war to gain independence from Russia. Russia and Chechnya have agreed to negotiate a final status for Chechnya within Russia over the next five years.

Maskhadov is on a private, unofficial visit to the United States. He told reporters yesterday that he has had meetings with members of the U.S. Congress and some government officials during his trip. He says he is gratified by the level of interest he's found among Americans over developments in Chechnya.