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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Turkish Businessmen Receive Chechen Leader

ISTANBUL, Turkey -- The president of Russia's breakaway region of Chechnya, Aslan Maskhadov, has met Turkish businessmen to discuss reconstruction of the war-hit Caucasian province, an aide said Tuesday.

"He met the businessmen at a dinner last night," an aide to Maskhadov said.

He said the Chechen leader had discussed the rebuilding of the Chechen capital Grozny and a number of surrounding towns badly damaged during 21 months of heavy fighting with Russian troops in the mid-1990s.

Turkish companies have been closely involved in Russia, especially in construction. A Turkish firm rebuilt Moscow's White House building burnt out in 1993 when President Boris Yeltsin turned artillery on it to quell an attempted coup.

Maskhadov arrived in Turkey on Sunday for a three-day visit that is a mixture of leisure and business. He is due to fly to the United States on Wednesday for an international Islamic conference.

Turks have close ethnic and religious links with Moslem Chechnya but the Foreign Ministry said Maskhadov had no scheduled meetings with Turkish authorities.

Chechnya's unilateral declaration of independence from Russia is not recognized internationally.

Russia still regards Chechnya as an integral part of the federation. Chechnya sees itself as independent and is pressing Moscow to pay war damages.

Maskhadov was elected in 1997 as president and has since struggled to rein in kidnap gangs and recently Islamists. He survived an assassination attempt last month.