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Khloponin Calls for End to Chechen-Ingush Border Dispute

More than a month after the outbreak of a border quarrel between Chechnya and Ingushetia, a federal official has for the first time intervened in the increasingly heated exchange between regional leaders Ramzan Kadyrov and Yunus-Bek Yevkurov.

Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Khloponin, the federal envoy to the North Caucasus, called upon the two to end their quarrel immediately. "And now I ask: break, stop, get out of the public sphere, stop insulting each other, end this topic now and forever," he told a meeting of officials Friday in Pyatigorsk, Interfax reported.

Khloponin warned that the dispute might lead to ethnic conflict because "the question of land is the most controversial" in the region. Neither Kadyrov nor Yevkurov attended the meeting, the report said.

The Kremlin has remained silent since Chechen leader Kadyrov said in early August that Chechnya can claim wide swaths of Ingush territory. His Ingush counterpart Yevkurov has rejected the claim but agreed to form a working group of representatives from both regions to delineate the border. Experts have said the situation is dangerous and could only be resolved with intervention from Moscow.

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