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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ivanov Criticizes 'Double Standards'

APIvanov, right, chatting with NATO chief Lord Robertson and U.S. and German delegates at the conference in Munich on Sunday.
MUNICH, Germany -- Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov accused the world community of "double standards" Sunday for failing to condemn Chechen rebels as "terrorists" with the same vigor as they have pursued Osama bin Laden.

Ivanov warned that disagreement over who should be called a terrorist could undermine the coalition in which Russia has joined its old Cold War adversaries to combat the Islamic militants the United States accuses of the Sept. 11 attacks.

"What is our greatest concern today is the existence until the present time of double political standards with regard to separatism, religious extremism and fanaticism," he told a conference of global defense policy makers in Munich, whose audience included U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and other Western ministers.

"If those who blow up apartment houses in Moscow or Buinaksk in Dagestan are declared freedom fighters while in other countries such persons are referred to as terrorists, one cannot even think of forging a united anti-terrorist front," he said.

On Saturday, Ivanov held a bilateral meeting with Wolfowitz in which they discussed the possible expansion of the war on terrorism.

Earlier Saturday, Wolfowitz had warned that countries tolerating or supporting terrorism would be held to account. He did not single out any nation, but referred to U.S. President George W. Bush's State of the Union address last week in which he described Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an "axis of evil" that had sought weapons of mass destruction.

Ivanov said Russia did not agree with Bush's description of Iran, Iraq and North Korea as "an axis of terror" but that Moscow shared U.S. concerns about possible proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by these three countries and others.

"I don't have any data or information that would suggest the governments of the three countries support terrorism. As far as nonproliferation issues are concerned, there is a serious problem and threat but that should not be limited to three countries," Ivanov said, speaking through an interpreter.

The ministers also discussed intentions of the two powers to reduce strategic nuclear arsenals, and Ivanov said he hoped Bush and President Vladimir Putin would be able to announce a deal at a summit in Moscow that he said would happen "very soon."

After the conference, Ivanov was due to travel to Rome for a meeting Monday between NATO allies and Russia to discuss terrorism.