Friday, November 19, 1999 Published at 17:55 GMT
Chechnya overshadows security accords
Western leaders and Russia have reached an agreement on Chechnya
Russian and Western leaders have signed two key accords at a European security summit in Istanbul - but the impact on Moscow's war in the breakaway republic of Chechnya is likely to be negligible.
"The task remains unchanged - to destroy the militants," said Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo.
The two accords signed on Friday - after a day's delay caused by disputes with Russia over Chechnya - were:
The head of the United Nations refugee agency, Sadako Ogata, said in Moscow on Friday, after visiting refugee camps on the Chechen border, that the situation there was not castastrophic.
However, she told the Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, of her serious concern about the number of civilian casualties.
No timetable for negotiations
Even as the negotiations were taking place Russian troops were continuing to pound the Chechen capital, Grozny.
Interfax news agency said Russian warplanes had carried out about 60 air strikes during the past 24 hours.
The BBC's Rob Watson, reporting from the summit, said although the gap between Russia and the West over Chechnya remained wide, there was no sign of a breakdown in relations.
In a separate development, Moscow also granted the United Nations refugee agency access to refugees who have fled the fighting.
Chechen town surrenders
Russian troops have continued their push into the breakaway republic of Chechnya, taking another key town without a shot being fired.
Achkhoi-Martan, near the border with Ingushetia, was the second major Chechen town to surrender.
Last week, federal forces entered Chechnya's second city, Gudermes, without opposition.
Local officials were told they would be spared bombing and shelling if they ensured no guerrillas were hiding in the town.
Residents gave up a varied array of weaponry including machine guns and grenade launchers.
Russian troops had surrounded Achkhoi-Martan for days as they pressed towards the Chechen heartland that lies south of the capital, Grozny.
Meanwhile, French news agency AFP reported that some 170 people died in Russian missile strikes on Thursday.
Chechen officials told AFP that 70 died in air strikes on Grozny and another 100 died when five rockets struck Urus-Martan, 20km (12 miles) from the rebel capital.
The death toll could not be independently verified.