Washington, 20 September 2002 (RFE/RL) In a speech to the UN General Assembly yesterday, Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagarishvili rejected Russian charges that Georgia is providing a haven for Chechen separatists, calling the allegations "utter nonsense." Menagarishvili told the UN General Assembly that Russia's claims against Georgia are an attempt to hide Russia's failure to solve its conflict in Chechnya.
The foreign minister said Moscow's threats of military strikes against alleged Georgian-based Chechen rebels --repeated yesterday by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov -- imperil Georgia's sovereignty and independence.
Menagarishvili said Georgia was taking all necessary measures to prevent its territory from being used by terrorists. He appealed to Russian leaders to reconsider their approach to the Chechen problem and settle the issue through political means.
U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz says the United States believes "terrorists" are actively training and plotting in Georgia.
Reuters quotes Wolfowitz as making the comment before a joint hearing of a Senate and House of Representatives committee.
Wolfowitz identified Georgia and Yemen as two countries where the United States "knows" there are what he called "active" terrorists who are training and plotting.
Wolfowitz said the United States is working with the Georgian government to obtain precise information that would lead to targeted action against the terrorists. He said the U.S. is also working to improve the capabilities of Georgian forces to pursue terrorist suspects.
Wolfowitz's comments come amid increasing Russian pressure on Georgia to take action against Chechen separatists who Moscow says use Georgian territory to launch attacks on Russian forces in Chechnya.