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DATE=10/22/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=U-S-CHECHNYA (L) NUMBER=2-255380 BYLINE=DAVID GOLLUST DATELINE=WHITE HOUSE CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The United States is appealing to Russia and the Chechen guerrillas to seek peace talks after the rocketing of an open-air market in the Chechen capital Groszny Thursday that killed or wounded hundreds of civilians. VOA's David Gollust reports from the White House. TEXT: Officials here say the Administration is still sorting through conflicting accounts and statements about Thursday's attack and is not ready to blame any side. But Clinton spokesman Joe Lockhart says it is clear there has been a tragic situation with a terrible loss of life, and that the Chechen crisis cannot be resolved by military means alone: /// LOCKHART ACTUALITY /// We are working hard now to find out what the facts are. But we will continue, regardless of this incident, to make clear to the Russians and to both parties that there is no way to find a purely military solution to this situation. There needs to be a constructive political dialogue and both parties need to engage in that dialogue. /// END ACT /// Mr. Lockhart said the United States has conveyed its concern to Moscow on various levels in recent weeks -- including a letter by President Clinton to President Boris Yeltsin in which he urged Russia not to "repeat the mistakes" of the massive offensive in Chechnya it launched in 1994. Mr. Yeltsin replied earlier this week with a message - - parts of which were made public by the Kremlin -- in which he depicted Russia as a victim of "international terrorism" in Chechnya but said Moscow is open to dialogue with all Chechen leaders who reject violence and terror. Mr. Lockhart said the Clinton letter reiterated the U- S position that Chechnya is part of Russia. But he also called on Moscow to avoid the "disproportionate" use of force, and said in defending its territory Russia should respect the independence and security concerns of neighboring states - especially Georgia and Azerbaijan. The President is further said to have cautioned that progress toward a democratic, civil society in Russia would be jeopardized if authorities allowed a backlash against minorities or Muslims because of the Chechnya conflict. (Signed) NEB/DAG/ENE/KL 22-Oct-1999 14:30 PM EDT (22-Oct-1999 1830 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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