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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kremlin Frowns On U.S.-Chechen Contact

A Kremlin official said Wednesday that planned contacts between U.S. officials and Chechen rebel envoys would fuel further violence in the troubled republic and sour relations between Moscow and Washington.

In Chechnya itself, further rebel attacks were reported and a pro-Moscow Chechen administration official also was reported killed.

The new dispute with the United States was sparked when a U.S. official said Tuesday that further contacts with envoys of the separatist Chechen government were planned for this week.

"Russia views such contacts as absolutely unacceptable," said President Vladimir Putin's aide, Sergei Yastrzhembsky. "They can be understood by Chechen terrorists and separatists as a signal encouraging them to more action."

In Washington, Marc Grossman, President George W. Bush's nominee for undersecretary of state for political affairs, said a meeting would be held at assistant secretary level.

Yastrzhembsky said: "Such contacts, if they take place, cannot but have a negative influence on Russian-U.S. ties."

Ties between the new U.S. administration and Russia have already been hit by various arguments, including U.S. plans for an anti-missile defense system and allegations of spying from both sides.

Another State Department official said the last contact with the rebel government of Chechnya and U.S. officials took place in New York in October during the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly.

That was with the man who calls himself foreign minister of the rebel government, Ilyas Akhmadov, who has now requested another meeting, the official added. The State Department has not made a decision on whether to grant the request.

The United States agrees Chechnya is part of Russia and does not recognize the rebels or their separatist agenda. However, it says a political solution to the conflict must be sought.

Fresh reports of violence came from Grozny as Interfax quoted local police as saying a pro-Moscow Chechen official, the head of a regional state pension fund office, had been murdered. An aide to Yastrzhembsky said the killing was aimed at "terrorizing" pro-Moscow Chechens.