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Israel, Russia Call for Closer Cooperation Against Terrorism  - 2004-09-06

Israel has offered to share its experience in combating militant groups with Russia as both sides call for closer cooperation in fighting terrorism. The move follows the killing of more than 350 people, about half of them children, during a terrorist siege of a school in southern Russia.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov welcomed Israel's offer to share intelligence and expertise in combating terrorism. Mr. Lavrov, on a tour of the Middle East, said in Israel such cooperation would help strengthen the counter-terrorism coalition.

In an interview with Israel's Haaretz newspaper, Mr. Lavrov said that both Russia and Israel are, what he described as the crosshairs of terrorism, and he called for a united effort to fight, this universal evil.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Israel is in a good position to offer help because of its own experiences.

Speaking on Israel Radio, Mr. Shalom said Israelis understand the suffering of Russian families who lost loved ones in the school siege, because of the losses Israeli families have suffered through terrorist attacks.

He said it is vital to cooperate in the war against terror and that means increasing cooperation in the political and security arenas.

Since the September 11, 2001 attacks against the United States, Israel has identified its own battle against Palestinian militants with the global war against terrorism.

Russia has also said that its conflict in the breakaway republic of Chechnya is part of global terrorism. Officials have long said that foreign fighters linked to the al-Qaida terror network are involved in the fighting in Chechnya.

Russian officials said the terrorists who held more than 1,000 people hostage in the school in Beslan included Chechens as well as foreign fighters.