Moscow/Washington, 14 January 2000 (RFE/RL) - Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has denounced a meeting between a U.S. official and the self-declared foreign minister of Chechnya, Ilyas Akhmadov. ITAR-TASS quotes Ivanov as saying today that the meeting causes "regret and concern" in Moscow. He said it would imply support for terrorists and separatists. The State Department was not immediately available to confirm that the meeting had taken place.
State Department spokesman James Rubin said yesterday that Akhmadov, who is in Washington on a private visit, would meet with lower-level officials. Rubin said a meeting does not indicate U.S. support for Chechen independence. He said the U.S. supports the territorial integrity of Russia and does not recognize Akhmadov as Chechnya's foreign minister.
Meanwhile, a self-described Chechen representative in Washington tells RFE/RL that Ahhmadov met yesterday with an official of the State Department's Russian desk. Lyoma Usmanov said the meeting did not take place at the State Department but at a hotel in Washington.
Usmanov described the meeting as pleasant but unsatisfactory.