On September 20, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov met in the White House in Washington with President George W. Bush. One of the issues briefly discussed during the meeting, which was heavily covered by both the Western and Russian media, was the Russian-Georgian dispute over alleged terrorist activity in the Pankisi Gorge. During an interview that evening with correspondent Ray Suarez of the PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Sergei Ivanov confided: “As a defense minister of the Russian Federation, I am much more concerned right now–I have to admit that–not with Iraq, but with Georgia. We are under a direct threat and sometimes a military attack from the territory of Georgia.”
“I brought with me,” Ivanov proceeded to reveal, “and passed this confidential information to the CIA, to the National Security Agency and to the defense minister [Donald Rumsfeld]… irrevocable evidence that some of the Georgian officials are directly implicated in ties with terrorists based on the territory of Georgia.” “Everyone recognizes,” Ivanov continued his indictment, “that there are terrorist cells and groups based in Georgia. Everyone understands that the Georgian government doesn’t control much of its own territory. We offered to act together with the Georgian authorities. They rejected the idea. We are still under attack…. We need action. We can’t wait for years and see the terrorist groups trying to infiltrate our territory on the border, which is 900 kilometers long [a presumed error in translation: It is 90 kilometers long]” (PBS.org, September 20).