Tags: Shevardnadze | Offers | Mediate | Chechnya | Talks

Shevardnadze Offers to Mediate Chechnya Talks

Sunday, 30 September 2001 12:00 AM

"I would take part in any talks that lead to peace," Shevardnadze was quoted as saying.

On Saturday, Maskhadov's emissary to Georgia, Akhmed Zakayev, gave Georgian journalists copies of a written request from Maskhadov to Shevardnadze asking him to mediate the continuing standoff between Chechen rebels and Russian authorities.

Shevardnadze added Sunday that the proposals for talks should also be initiated by Russia's leadership and President Vladimir Putin in particular.

Last Monday, Putin issued an ultimatum to the rebels, giving them 72 hours to either disarm or establish contacts with federal authorities in the separatist province in order to negotiate terms of their surrender.

The rebels refused to turn over their weapons but made their first contact with Putin's representative in southern Russia, Viktor Kazantsev, on Thursday as the ultimatum neared expiration.

Putin has insisted that the only possible topic of discussion at potential talks between the Kremlin and the rebels was their subsequent disarmament and surrender.

In recent weeks, Russia and Georgia, a former Soviet republic, have intensified their cooperation, mainly due to Russia's insistence on the extradition of Chechen rebels reportedly hiding in Georgia's Pankisi gorge. According to the Russian news Web site Gazeta.ru, the Duiss district of the Pankisi area is the site of a training camp run by Chechen warlord Ruslan Gelayev.

On Thursday, Russia's official Itar-Tass news agency reported that Georgian authorities had ordered Gelayev and his associates to leave Georgia. Until recently, Georgia denied that Chechen rebels were on its territory.

Gazeta.ru also reported that "instructors" from Jordan and Turkey have trained the rebels, who then crossed over into neighboring Chechnya to fight Russian troops.

On Saturday, Georgian Interior Minister Kakha Targamadze told reporters in Moscow that Gelayev and his troops could be stationed in either of Georgia's separatist provinces, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Like Chechnya's relationship to Russia, the two Georgian republics refuse to recognize the authority of the central government.

Targamadze spoke after meeting with his Russian counterpart, Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov, with whom he discussed cooperation in the two countries' crackdown on regional terrorism.

The Georgian minister, however, ruled out any joint operations with Russia against the rebels on Georgia's soil.

"There has been no word on any joint special operations," he said. "We are determined to fight crime on the Georgian territory using our own forces only."

Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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I would take part in any talks that lead to peace, Shevardnadze was quoted as saying. On Saturday, Maskhadov's emissary to Georgia, Akhmed Zakayev, gave Georgian journalists copies of a written request from Maskhadov to Shevardnadze asking him to mediate the continuing...
Shevardnadze,Offers,Mediate,Chechnya,Talks
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2001-00-30
Sunday, 30 September 2001 12:00 AM
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