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Russia: Yeltsin Suddenly Walks Out Of Summit

Istanbul, 18 November 1999 (RFE/RL) - Russian President Boris Yeltsin today suddenly walked out of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Istanbul, saying he is returning to Moscow to deal with Chechnya. A French presidential spokeswoman (Catherine Colonna) said Yeltsin left a meeting with French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder after less than 10 minutes. She said the parties agreed to meet again in Paris next month. Yeltsin's spokesman (Dmitri Yakushkin) said the president walked out because of a dispute about linking the Chechen conflict to a key part of the European Security Charter -- a treaty designed to address human rights and democracy.

OSCE Chairman Knut Vollebaek said the signing of the document has been postponed following Yeltsin's objections to provisions concerning human rights and the status of minorities in Chechnya.

Yakushkin says Yeltsin has authorized Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov to sign the final charter documents. But Vollebaek said the OSCE needs to see "some movement on Chechnya" before the charter is signed as planned.

Earlier today, U.S. President Bill Clinton said he was not able to persuade Yeltsin to negotiate peace in Chechnya. Clinton's one-hour meeting with Yeltsin followed a morning filled with intense criticism from Western countries for Russia's actions in the breakaway republic.

Yeltsin rejected all the criticism, saying the West has no right to criticize Moscow over its attempts to stop the spread of terrorism.