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DATE=9/23/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=CLINTON - SHEVARDNADZE (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-254279 BYLINE=DEBORAH TATE DATELINE=WHITE HOUSE CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: President Clinton has met with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze at the White House. Topping the agenda was Russia's crackdown on Islamic rebels in the breakaway region of Chechenya, which shares a border with Georgia. Correspondent Deborah Tate reports from the White House. Text: The U.S. and Georgian Presidents reviewed the situation in the Caucasus as Russia intensified its campaign against separatist rebels by bombing the airport in the Chechen capital, Grosny. Russian forces have been bombing what they say are rebel bases inside Chechenya used to launch incursions into the neighboring region of Dagestan. Moscow has accused Chechen rebels of being behind a series of bombings throughout Russia in recent weeks. Russian officials are trying to seal off the border with Chechenya - including Georgia's border with the breakaway region. They are in talks with Georgian officials on the matter. Emerging from his White House meeting, Mr. Shevardnadze - speaking through a translator - was hesitant to comment on the situation. /// SHEVARDNADZE ACTUALITY-Translator /// We haven't made any decisions on these matters. Let us give some time for situation to unfold, and then we can make conclusions afterwards. /// END ACT /// Mr. Clinton - who is concerned the situation in Chechenya could destabilize the region - discussed the matter with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov a day earlier. Besides Chechenya, Mr. Clinton and Mr. Shevardnadze also discussed Georgia's progress toward democratic and economic reform. The Georgian leader is to be honored Thursday night for his commitment to reform by the private National Democratic Institute in Washington. Mr. Shevardnadze, a former Soviet Foreign Minister, has had to deal with years of political upheaval since becoming Georgian President in 1995. He has survived two assassination attempts. His native Georgia, a former Soviet republic, became independent in 1991. (Signed) NEB/DAT/TVM/PT 23-Sep-1999 19:35 PM LOC (23-Sep-1999 2335 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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