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CHECHNYA LINKS LIBRARY

February 18th 2002 · Associated Press · PRINTER FRIENDLY FORMAT · E-MAIL THIS

US congressman: US can learn from Chechen war

MOSCOW - Russia's experience fighting Chechen separatists could be useful for the United States in its campaign against international terrorism, U.S. Congressman James Saxton said Monday.

Saxton, who heads the House Special Oversight Panel on Terrorism and is among a group of U.S. congressional representatives visiting Moscow, told a news conference that one of the aims of the visit was to learn more about the Russian security service's experience fighting rebels in the breakaway Caucasus Mountains republic of Chechnya.

Russia, which has strongly supported the U.S.-led antiterrorism campaign, has long maintained that the more than 2-year-old military campaign in Chechnya is aimed at international terrorists, not separatists seeking political independence.

The United States and other western nations have criticized the war as heavy-handed and accused Russian forces of human rights abuses against civilians. But recently, the Unites States recognized links between Chechen separatists and international terrorist groups and raised concern that al-Qaida fighters may find shelter in parts of the world like Chechnya.

"We recognize that the situation Russia is facing in Chechnya is very important for us to understand," Saxton, a Republican from New Jersey, said. He said the United States and Russia were facing "a seemingly similar threat from a seemingly similar enemy."

"We Americans would like to learn from the Russian government the most effective way of fighting terrorism that threatens our two governments," he added.

Another member of the delegation, representative Bernard Sanders, stressed the importance of U.S.-Russian cooperation in fighting Islamic fundamentalism and international terrorism.

"We hope that within this struggle, the U.S. and Russian people will become closer together," Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, said. /The Associated Press/

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