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DATE=10/19/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=CONGRESS-RUSSIA (L ONLY) NUMBER=2-255242 BYLINE=PAULA WOLFSON DATELINE=CAPITOL HILL CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: A letter from Russian President Boris Yeltsin to President Clinton got a quick public response in Washington. In the letter, the Russian leader tried to ease Western concerns about the fighting in Chechnya. Shortly after its arrival, a top Clinton administration official re-emphasized those concerns during an appearance before a congressional committee. V-O-A's Paula Wolfson reports from Capitol Hill. TEXT: Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott had planned to focus his remarks on overall Russia policy. Instead, he put his prepared text aside and talked about Chechnya. /// First Talbott act /// If this situation does not develop in a favorable and acceptable manner, it will jeopardize everything else we are talking about of a positive nature in Russia today. /// End Act /// Mr. Talbott did not refer directly to the Yeltsin letter. But the tone of his remarks was unmistakable. His words on Chechnya were diplomatic, but stronger than any uttered before by an administration official in congressional testimony. /// Second Talbott Act /// A spread of violence in the region will be contrary to everyone's interest except those who rely on violence as a means to their political ends, including the political end of separatism or tearing parts of Russia out of the Russian federation. /// End Act/// Moscow's latest offensive in Chechnya followed a series of bomb blasts in Russian cities. Mr. Talbott said Moscow has a right to protect its citizens. But he urged Russian leaders to think long and hard before launching a full-scale assault. /// Third Talbott Act /// Russia's last war in Chechnya from 1994 to 1996 demonstrated that there cannot be a purely military solution to the problem there. /// End Act /// In a philosophical moment, the Deputy Secretary of State said perhaps Washington should have taken a stronger stand during the Chechen war. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher - a strong critic of the administation's Russia policy - took note of those remarks. The California Republican said the United States has not done enough to challenge Taleban forces in Afghanistan that support the Chechen rebels. /// OPT Rohrabacher Act /// Is it not true that the miserable failure of this administration in Afghanistan is what has brought about this Chechen war? Isn't Chechnya being financed by drug money from Afghanistan? /// End Optional Act /// Mr. Talbott agreed that there has been - as he put it - an "internationalization" of the conflict. /// Optional Fourth Talbott Act /// There is no question that radical elements operating from bases out of Chechnya have had support from elsewhere, primarily from the arc of countries from the Arabian peninsula to South Asia. /// End Optional Act /// He said the United States has stressed to Russia that this terrorist network poses a threat to many countries. Mr. Talbott urged Moscow to see the problem in the north Caucasus in a global context and to seek international cooperation to help bring peace to the region. (SIGNED) NEB/PW/JP 19-Oct-1999 14:36 PM EDT (19-Oct-1999 1836 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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