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
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/