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Russian lawmaker accuses U.S. counterpart of provoking terrorism

Moscow, July 19 (RIA Novosti) - Russian parliament member Konstantin Kosachev has harshly criticized an American counterpart for making statements that he believes may stir religious hatred and provoke further terrorism. Colorado Republican Tom Tancredo, of the U.S. House of Representatives, was quoted as saying yesterday that in the event of a nuclear attack by al-Qaeda terrorists, the United States would respond by striking Mecca and other Islamic shrines.

Kosachev, who leads the international affairs committee in the Russian parliament's lower house, the State Duma, warned that such statements would only encourage more people to join the terrorist ranks.

"It's quite obvious that statements like the one just made by the U.S. lawmaker play into the terrorists' hands as they stir international strife and may lead to the emergence of new... suicide bombers," he told a Moscow press conference Tuesday.

Kosachev said that by now the world has had more than one opportunity to see that global terrorism is blind to nationality and religion, whatever rhetoric its perpetrators and masterminds may use to disguise their goals.

On the other hand, every nation has the right to defend itself against terrorism, Kosachev said. "Terrorism should be fought against with the utmost decisiveness. But what does Mecca, holy shrines and Islam in general have to do with it?" he wondered.

He highlighted the world community's current efforts to prevent weapons of mass destruction and, most notably, nuclear weapons from falling into terrorists' hands.

"It was with this goal in mind that Russia suggested adopting an international convention against nuclear terrorism," he said. "The convention will soon be open for signing. And everyone, including legislators, will then be able to demonstrate their responsible approach to the problem of combating terrorism."

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