The Talks That Failed

As Russia reels from the hostage crisis at School No. 1 in Beslan, in the republic of North Ossetia, the repercussions continue. Russian President Vladimir Putin has furiously blamed Islamic terrorists for the tragedy, defended his policies on Chechnya and, under pressure, called for a parliamentary investigation of the incident. But could quicker action to negotiate with the terrorists have averted the carnage that left at least 338 dead?

Shortly after seizing the school, the terrorists, who were demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya, sent word that they wanted to negotiate with a group that included North Ossetia's...

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