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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Yeltsin, Caucasus States Sign Accord

KISLOVODSK, Southern Russia -- President Boris Yeltsin and the leaders of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia signed an agreement Monday on ending conflict and promoting cooperation in the volatile Caucasus region.

Yeltsin, who called the meeting last week while energetically campaigning for re-election, hailed the agreement and condemned the ethnic strife that has wracked the region in recent years.

"The attempt to dismember the Caucasus organism and drive a wedge between distinct Caucasus peoples and countries, between the Caucasus as a whole and Russia, inevitably will result in major troubles for all," Yeltsin said after the signing.

The meeting comes amid stepped-up efforts to end Moscow's nearly 18-month war in Chechnya. The other signatories were the presidents of the three former Soviet republics in the Caucasus, Eduard Shevardnadze of Georgia, Levon Ter-Petrosian of Armenia and Heidar Aliyev of Azerbaijan.

The document calls for "international accord, peace, economic and cultural cooperation in the Caucasus," and calls for more support for refugees. It also condemns "aggressive separatism, ethnic hatred, religious extremism and terrorism in all forms," and outlines the countries' intentions to increase economic cooperation. It was signed at a government retreat outside the southern Russian resort town of Kislovodsk, about 1,550 kilometers south of Moscow and just 150 kilometers west of Chechnya.

The meeting considered the Chechnya war, and the participants hailed an agreement reached between Yeltsin and Chechen leaders last week.

"Settling the [Chechnya] conflict will be very important for the settlement of other conflicts in the Caucasus," Interfax quoted Aliyev as saying.

Meanwhile, the other leaders present at the meeting took the opportunity to endorse Yeltsin's re-election bid.

"Azerbaijan, which is tied to Russia by many centuries of history, is not indifferent to what kind of Russia it will do business with in the future," Aliyev said.