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Russia, Britain Announce Expanded Intelligence Sharing - 2001-12-21


Britain and Russia have agreed to create a joint working group against global terrorism. The issue came up in talks Friday between Russian President Vladimir Putin and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Prime Minister Blair announced at a news conference with Mr. Putin that the two leaders are expanding intelligence sharing in the aftermath of the September terrorist attacks against the United States.

"We have agreed to the formation of a new bilateral working group on terrorism. That will get underway as soon as possible, and allow our two countries to cooperate in defeating this attack on the civilized world," Mr. Blair said.

Afghanistan was a major topic of their talks at Mr. Blair's countryside retreat of Chequers, northwest of London.

Mr. Putin said Russia has national security interests in making sure Afghanistan nolonger sponsors international terrorism. He spoke through an interpreter.

"Russia's interest is to have in Afghanistan a neutral and a friendly country near our southern border which will never again allow on its territory bases for training terrorists and sending them to Russian Caucasian territories," he said.

Mr. Blair has said they also discussed the situation in the breakaway Russian Republic of Chechnya.

Mr. Blair said he wants to see a political solution to the conflict, and he condemned Chechen terrorism that has killed hundreds of Russian civilians.

Mr. Putin said he wants to cooperate with international human rights monitors, who have denounced alleged Russian military abuses, including torture and killing of Chechen civilians.

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