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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

War Must Not Halt IMF Aid, U.S. Says

ANKARA, Turkey -- The United States said Monday that while it had great concern over Russia's crackdown in Chechnya, it did not believe the conflict should affect International Monetary Fund assistance for Moscow.

White House National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, in Turkey with U.S. President Bill Clinton on an eastern Mediterranean tour, said Clinton would tell either President Boris Yeltsin or Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at a European security summit later this week in Istanbul that Russia's current course in Chechnya "is not a wise one."

But Berger said "it would not make sense" for the United States to retaliate against Russia by blocking assistance for containing and storing Russian nuclear materials and reducing its nuclear weapons.

"Nor would it make sense for us to affect the IMF money, assuming the economic and transparency criteria are met, because that goes to the very stability of Russia," he told reporters.

The IMF said Saturday it had resolved most of its differences with Russia over the release of the second $640 million tranche of a $4.5 billion loan. Russia said Monday it hoped to get the long-awaited $640 million in December.

It has been held up by concerns over the transparency of Russia's finances and international money-laundering investigations.

Berger said it was unclear whether Yeltsin would indeed attend a 54-nation summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Istanbul later this week. Clinton is expected to meet Yeltsin if he attends.

Yeltsin, in Moscow, vowed Monday that Russia would defend its military campaign in rebel Chechnya against growing Western criticism at the summit.

Interfax quoted Yeltsin as saying that Western countries "have no right to blame Russia for destroying bandits and terrorists on its territory."

He spoke as his forces kept up a relentless air and artillery bombardment of Chechen villages in their drive against Chechnya's Islamic militants, whom Moscow blames for a series of bomb blasts in Russian towns and cities and also accuses of seeking to destabilize the whole North Caucasus region.

The conflict is believed to have killed hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians and has created 200,000 refugees.

Clinton, in a speech to Turkey's parliament, said: "We must help Russia to complete its momentous democratic revolution."

"We must be clear with Russia that its fight against terrorism is right, but that the use of indiscriminate force against civilians is wrong, likely to exacerbate the very tensions Russia wants to resolve," he said.