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Russia: Chechen Optimistic After Moscow Talks

Istanbul, 18 November 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Akhmed Zakaev, an envoy of Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov, said after talks in Moscow today that he is optimistic about a peace deal with Russia. The talks were the first publicly acknowledged contacts since war resumed two years ago.

Zakaev, who flew from Istanbul to Moscow today for the previously unannounced talks, said on his return to Istanbul that he had three hours of talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin's envoy to southern Russia, Viktor Kazantsev.

He said he believes the talks will continue and end positively. He also said that the most important goal of these talks is to stop the war in Chechnya.

Russia refused to allow mediators, but Zakaev was accompanied by a Turkish politician, Besim Tibuk, the head of the small Liberal Democratic Party. Tibuk said the meetings were very positive.