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Yeltsin ready to negotiate Chechen autonomy

Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov said yesterday that he was pleased with talks with Russian President Boris Yeltsin and said he had high hopes of negotiating formal independence for his breakaway republic.

"Today I saw in Boris Nikolayevich a man who is really aware of the need to solve the problems of the last 400 years," Mr Maskhadov said. Russian news agencies earlier quoted Mr Yeltsin as saying he was ready to negotiate a long-term political deal with Chechnya, suggesting wide-reaching autonomy along the lines of that granted in 1994 to Tatarstan, a mainly Moslem republic, like Chechnya, on the Volga River in central Russia. Reuters - Moscow