CHECHNYA . . . FINGERS CROSSED FOR NEW TRUCE

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Two days after they arranged a shaky ceasefire, Russian and Chechen officials agreed to a two-day truce to try for a negotiated settlement to the two-month-old civil war. The commander of Moscow's troops in Chechnya, Col. Gen. Anatoly Kulikov, claimed the agreement had averted an all-out massacre. But Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudayev said the pending talks between envoys were too low-level to accomplish anything serious. "You never can stop a war by means of negotiations between commanders," he told reporters. A taste of what's to come: this afternoon, 50 Chechen presidential guards arrived at the talks in southern Russia carrying grenade launchers, machine guns and assault rifles, then piled out of six cars shouting "Allah Akbar!" (God is Great).