Where’s Big Time Dick when you need him?
The Bush administration differed Tuesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and said that only a political settlement could end the crisis between Russia and the breakaway region of Chechnya.
In an interview Monday with a group of foreign journalists and academics, Putin rejected Western calls for negotiations with Chechen rebel representatives, Britain’s Guardian and Independent newspapers reported.
“Why don’t you meet Osama bin Laden, invite him to Brussels or to the White House and engage in talks, ask him what he wants and give it to him so he leaves you in peace?” the Guardian quoted Putin as saying sarcastically.
[Richard] Boucher, the State Department spokesman, said Tuesday that “our view on the overall situation has not changed.” That is, he said, ultimately “there must be a political settlement” over Chechnya.
He said U.S. officials had met with Chechens with a variety of views in the past, although “we do not meet with terrorists.” There may be additional meetings in the future, though none are planned, he said.