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Putin Offers Condolences on Anniversary of Terror Attacks - 2002-09-11

Russian President Vladimir Putin called U.S. President George W. Bush Wednesday, the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks in the United States, to offer his condolences.

The Russian leader told President Bush that he wanted to offer not only his personal sympathy but the sympathy of the Russian people on this day.

During the telephone call, President Putin said time heals all things but there are things that cannot and must not be forgotten.

He also told President Bush that Russia and the United States have much in common in the fight against terrorism.

Three years ago, Russia suffered a series of apartment blasts that killed about three hundred people. Russian officials blamed the blasts on separatists linked to the fighting in the breakaway region of Chechnya.

The Russian leader called President Bush a few minutes after midnight, Moscow time, on Wednesday, the anniversary of the September 11 attacks. President Putin made the call from the town of Sochi on the Black Sea, where he often travels.

One year ago, President Putin was one of the first world leaders to call President Bush to express his sympathy over the attacks in Washington and New York. He also offered to help in the fight against terrorism.

The phone call last year signaled a turning point in Russian-American relations, and Russia has since become a key U.S. ally in the fight against terrorism.

President Putin, for example, did not object to the United States basing troops in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia as part of the military campaign in Afghanistan.

Russia and the United States agreed to a landmark arms reduction agreement in May and Russia later signed an agreement with NATO giving Moscow a greater say in the security organization.