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Russia, Chechens agree to elections

Russian and Chechen negotiators agreed Friday to hold national and regional elections in Chechnya. How and when such elections would be held were left for later discussions.

Negotiators recessed after five days of talks held under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The two sides said they would extend a cease-fire that was due to expire Friday while they consult their governments.

"We have had very many difficulties today," said Aslan Maskhadyov, a member of the Chechen delegation and the commander of rebel forces. "All the questions were difficult."

Negotiators have agreed on a plan to halt the fighting, but it hinges on finding a solution to the most problematic issue: the future status of the secessionist republic.

Even the step of agreeing to elections was filled with potential deadlocks. Russia has not yet said _ or perhaps even decided _ whether it will allow the rebel leader, Dzhokar Dudayev, who is in hiding, to participate.

The fact that the Russians and the Chechens have managed to keep the talks going at all is in itself something of a coup. The cease-fire has, for the most part, been observed.

Doctors at the main military hospital in Grozny, the Chechen capital, said that no casualties had been admitted during the truce.