Russia has agreed to allow an OSCE mission visit Chechnya following pressure from world leaders gathered at the organisation's summit in Istanbul. The Russian President, Boris Yeltsin left the summit early, insisting that that Chechnya was an internal matter. But Russia's foreign minister subsequently agreed to concessions in the final OSCE summit declaration.
There was sharp disagreement between the US President, Bill Clinton, and the Russian President, Boris Yeltsin, over Moscow's offensive in Chechnya, at the summit in Istanbul today. Mr Yeltsin abruptly left the meeting after openly clashing with Mr Clinton. Mr Yeltsin said the international community had no right to interfere in an internal Russian affair, while Mr Clinton said too many civilians had been killed.
Earlier, President Yeltsin told the summit that the West had no right to criticise what he called Russia's "counter-terrorism operation" in Chechnya. Mr Yeltsin and the US President Bill Clinton met for talks on the periphery of the OSCE summit in Istanbul, but Mr Clinton said that he had not been able to persuade the Russian President to negotiate peace in the troubled region.
The Taoiseach is also attending the summit. He told the conference that the opportunity of lasting peace was a prize beyond measure, which must be grasped.
The head of the United Nations refugee agency, Sadako Ogata, is due to meet refugees in the North Caucasus who have fled the Russian attacks. Mrs Ogata is expected to visit camps in the neighbouring Republic of Ingushetia where tens of thousands of refugees live in squalid conditions. She is also due to visit Chechnya itself. After talks yesterday with senior Russian officials including Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Mrs Ogata said that the UN was keen to provide more help for the victims of war. Chechen officials say that Russian attacks have killed 54 civilians in the past two days.