Friday, Mar 01, 2002
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By Vladimir Radyuhin
American military presence in Georgia "can further aggravate the situation in the region, which is complicated as it is,'' said the Russian Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, adding that "Washington is well aware of our position.'' Mr. Ivanov was commenting on media reports that U. S. Special Forces were to arrive in Georgia later this week to give Georgian soldiers the same kind of help the American military is currently giving the Philippine Army in its war against local rebels.
Moscow has long claimed that Chechen rebels have set up bases in the Pankisi Gorge in neighbouring Georgia from where they stage attacks on Russian troops in Chechnya.
Earlier this week, Russia's Defence Minister, Sergei Ivanov, called on Georgia to launch an "anti-terror operation'' against militants sheltering in the Pankisi gorge and hinted that Russia could intervene if the authorities in Tbilisi failed to act.
``Are we to look on while a mini-Chechnya or mini-Afghanistan develops there'' the Russian defence chief said.
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