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Putin Declares 'Outright Support' for US War on Terrorism - 2001-10-19


Russian President Vladimir Putin has reaffirmed his strong support for the US war on terrorism and urged global leaders to strengthen legal mechanisms to fight terror groups. Mr. Putin was speaking Friday to business executives.

Mr. Putin told the executives gathered at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum that Russia declared its "outright support for the United States", a position that he said would not change.

Mr. Putin said some nations currently lack the legal mechanisms to quickly root out terrorist networks. He said in some cases, the laws do not even define terrorism. He also said economic reforms are helping his nation grow at a healthy rate while many other countries are facing economic downturns.

Mr. Putin will get a chance to discuss strategic, legal, and economic matters with President Bush Sunday as the final day of the annual 21-nation APEC summit.

To prepare for that meeting, foreign ministers from the two nations earlier agreed to press for a multi-ethnic, broad based, democratic government in Afghanistan if the current hard-line Islamic Taleban leadership loses power.

The Taleban are sheltering Osama bin Laden, the primary suspect in September's deadly terror attacks that wrecked the World Trade Center in New York and damaged the Pentagon. Those attacks killed thousands of people, and U.S. and British planes have been pounding Taleban targets in Afghanistan since then.

The talks and agreements are a measure of the change in relations between Moscow and Washington since the 1980s when Washington provided money, training and arms to Islamic warriors battling Soviet forces in Afghanistan. Those opposition forces then included Osama bin Laden and some of the people who still work closely with him.

But there are still tough issues dividing America and Russia, including Moscow's objections to U.S. proposals to build missile defenses and the possible expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization eastward, closer to Russian territory.