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Putin, Chirac End 2 Day Summit - 2002-07-20

French President Jacques Chirac and Russian leader Vladimir Putin have wrapped up a two-day meeting in Russia. The leaders discussed the future of the Russian region of Kaliningrad and fighting in the breakaway region of Chechnya.

The French president gave his support to Russia in its continuing dispute with the European Union over the Kaliningrad region.

Mr. Chirac said the European Union should not force Russians to get visas to travel between Kaliningrad and the rest of Russia.

Kaliningrad is a Russian region on the Baltic Sea, which is bordered by Lithuania and Poland, both of which want to join the EU by 2004. If that happens, the EU may require that Russian citizens get visas to travel to and from Kaliningrad. President Putin is firmly opposed to such a move.

Mr. Chirac said there should be no solution to the Kaliningrad problem that "involves humiliating Russia."

During the meeting in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi, the two leaders also discussed the future of the breakaway Russian region of Chechnya.

Chechnya has often been a source of conflict between Russia and Western countries that criticize the Russian military's conduct in the region. Russian troops have been accused of gross human rights violations against Chechen civilians, something Moscow has strongly denied.

During the Sochi meeting, President Putin said the Russian military would slowly abandon the use of force in Chechnya. Moscow says that, in the future, it would like to hand over all law enforcement responsibilities to the Chechen government.

The two leaders also discussed the anti-terrorism operation in Afghanistan, as well as the conflict in the Middle East.