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Jordanian King Adbullah makes surprise appearance in Chechnya

Europe
19.06.2014
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Moscow (dpa) - Jordanian King Abdullah made a surprise visit to the Russian North Caucasus region of Chechnya Thursday, a trip billed as building up ties, but widely believed to be focused on interlinked issues of security and migration.

Abdullah was greeted at the airport of the regional capital Grozny by Chechnya‘s Moscow-appointed leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, and other local officials.

Kadyrov said on his Instagram page that the visit was supposed to widen cooperation between Chechnya and Jordan.

Observers suggested that the king discussed security issues with Kadyrov. Jordan has a significant community of ethnic Chechens stemming from 19th century emigration from the Russian empire, while Chechens are thought to make up a significant proportion of Islamic State fighters, who are currently spreading unrest in Iraq.

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant - currently waging offensives in Syria and Iraq - claims that up to 2,000 fighters in both regions are from the Caucasus.

Kadyrov, who has been battling Islamist insurgents in Chechnya and neighbouring regions, has in the past vehemently denounced Chechen jihadists in the Middle East.

Moscow strongly backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the conflict in Syria.

Abdullah‘s visit is highly unusual because foreign leaders usually do not visit Russian regions without stopping in Moscow before.

Western officials have avoided Chechnya altogether in recent years because of Kadyrov‘s image as a ruthless strongman. Human rights organizations accuse him of torturing and killing dissenters at home and abroad.

Abdullah left Chechnya after only a few hours and arrived in Kazakhstan Thursday evening, the Jordanian Royal Court said. The King is expected to begin talks with President Nursultan Nazarbayev on Friday.

 

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