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Russia: Chechnya's President Seeks Europe's Economic Help

London, 10 March 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Chechnya's President Aslan Maskhadov is expected to appeal to European countries today for help in rebuilding Chechnya's war-ravaged economy.

Maskhadov, who's on a four-day, unofficial visit to Britain, is expected to make the appeal in an address to the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London.

A spokesman for Maskhadov tells RFE/RL that one of the main goals of Maskhadov's visit is to seek British help in restoring Chechnya's economy, following its 21-month war with Moscow. The spokesman said "we look to Britain and our friends in Europe to help rebuild our country." He said: "It is now essential that the international community should collaborate with us to develop good neighborly relations with all the countries of the (north) Caucasus."

Maskhadov, who is accompanied by a Chechen delegation of 13, is traveling on a Russian passport, and will not be received by any British government minister. A Foreign Office statement yesterday said Britain does not recognize Grozny's declaration of independence.

However, Foreign Office officials have agreed to meet Maskhadov to discuss the case of two British aid workers held hostage in Chechnya. Camilla Carr and Jon James were kidnapped by six masked gunmen in Grozny last July. Maskhadov will meet privately with their families Thursday.

During his visit, Maskhadov will meet parliamentarians, business leaders and Muslim community leaders. Tonight, he will discuss the situation in Chechnya with academics at Oxford University. Thursday, he visits Parliament.

Last night, Maskhadov had dinner with former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Maskhadov's host for the private visit is a former treasurer of Britain's Conservative Party, Lord McAlpine, who visited Grozny last year.