Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 2 Issue: 35

On September 26, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer responded to a question from a reporter as to whether “the United States is taking a softer line on Russia over Chechnya in return for the cooperation Putin has offered in this effort,” by stating in part: “The president [Bush] wants to note particularly President Putin’s remarks about the situation in Chechnya in which President Putin called on Chechen insurgents to disassociate themselves immediately from the international terrorist networks, and meet for discussions to resolve the crisis in Chechnya. The Chechnya leadership, like all responsible political leaders in the world, must immediately and unconditionally cut all contacts with international terrorist groups, such as Osama bin Laden and the al Qaida organization. At the same time, the United States has long said that the only solution in Chechnya is a political solution, a political process to resolve the conflict there. The president welcomes the sincere steps that have been taken by Russia to engage the Chechen leadership” (White House Daily Briefing, September 26).