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Russia: Moscow Rejects Chechen Appeal For Peace Talks

Moscow, 2 March 2000 (RFE/RL) - Russia today rejected an appeal by Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov for talks to end the war in Chechnya. Russia's presidential spokesman for Chechnya, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, told reporters that Moscow wants Maskhadov on criminal charges for taking part in what he termed the "armed rebellion" in Chechnya. This view was reiterated by Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev, who branded Maskhadov a criminal. Maskhadov made his appeal in an interview with a Moscow radio station. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov is meeting today in Portugal with officials of the European Union and his U.S. counterpart Madeleine Albright. Ivanov is likely to face criticism of Russia's military campaign in Chechnya as well as calls for providing international human rights monitors with access to Chechnya.