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Chechnya: Top Official Offers Peace Plan With Russia

A top Chechen official has visited Washington, telling reporters that the breakaway republic wants peace with Russia. The official said the war is hurting both sides. RFE/RL's K.P. Foley reports.

Washington, 6 June (RFE/RL) - A Chechen official says leaders of the breakaway Russian republic are offering a peace proposal that includes internationally mediated talks.

Ilyas Akhmadov, who describes himself as the foreign minister of the Chechen republic, made a return visit to Washington on Monday, telling reporters the separatists want to end what he called "this useless war" with Russia. He said:

"This useless war takes with it the lives not only of the Chechen people but of Russian people, too. And it has a tendency to grow and to spill over into the neighboring regions of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, and not only the Russian regions, but they're trying to connect somehow Central Asia, Central Asian republics with this conflict. "

Akhmadov said the peace plan is simple. He said:

"And basically, they consist of two main parts: The first one is terminating of the hostilities; and the second is peaceful resolving of the conflict."

Information provided by Akhmadov said the first part of the plan seeks a truce to be monitored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Council of Europe, the United Nations, and the Commonwealth of Independent States. A temporary executive committee made up of Chechen, Russian, and European officials would also be established.

The second part of the plan calls for Russia and the Chechen separatists to restrict themselves to zones and submit to peace talks mediated by the OSCE and the Council of Europe.

The Chechens also seek an international inquiry into alleged war crimes committed in the current conflict and during the 1994-96 war.

The U.S. State Department said it will not mediate the Russian-Chechen conflict. An official who did not want his name used said, the two sides "do need to have a dialogue and resolve this peacefully, not by military means."

Akhmadov was in Washington in January and had a meeting -- outside the State Department headquarters -- with an officer from the department's Russian Desk. The Russian government complained about the meeting, but the U.S. made it clear that it's position has not changed.

The U.S. has condemned Russian military action, but it has also repeatedly stated that the U.S. supports the territorial integrity of Russia.