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Bush, Putin Pledge Cooperation in Fighting Terrorism, Weapons Proliferation

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17, 2005 – President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin emerged from a Sept. 16 meeting with a renewed commitment to working together in fighting terrorism and preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the two leaders told reporters at a White House news conference.

Bush noted that both countries have felt the scourge of terrorism - the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, and Russia in September 2004, when a school siege in Beslan left 331 people, 186 of them children, dead.

"We've got a strong ally in Russia in fighting the war on terror," Bush said. "And it was about four years ago that our country got attacked; one year ago there was Beslan -- both of them brutal attacks, both of them attacks by people who have no regard for innocent life. And we understand we have a duty to protect our citizens and to work together and to do everything we can to stop the killing. That's why we hold office."

Speaking through an interpreter, Putin said he and Bush agreed in their meeting to enhance U.S.-Russian coordination, down to the working-group level, in fighting terrorism.

"We believe that special attention should be paid to joint effort to avert terrorist activities generally," Putin said, "and of course, with the possible use by terrorists of weapons of mass destruction."

Bush said he and Putin recognize the importance of working together to keep catastrophic weapons out of terrorists' hands. "We understand the stakes -- that people who kill in cold blood, if they have weapons of mass destruction, will kill in cold blood on a massive scale," he said.

Putin noted that the two leaders discussed nuclear nonproliferation in general, and two countries in particular. "Significant attention was paid to the subject of nonproliferation, and here we have discussed the North Korean problem and the Iranian nuclear dossier," he said. "And I must say that our positions are very close with the American partners here. We will continue to coordinate our work."

The Russian president emphasized that possible diplomatic solutions have not yet run out. "We will undertake all the steps necessary to settle all these problems and issues, not to aggravate them," he said.

Bush thanked Putin for Russia's offer of medical supplies within hours after Hurricane Katrina struck the U.S. Gulf Coast, and Putin in turn said the two countries can work together to study the lessons learned in responding to catastrophes.

"It meant a lot to know that you cared enough to send critical supplies, and our country really appreciates it," Bush told Putin. "People are going through some tough times down there, and I think it lifts their spirits to know that not only Americans, but Russians care about their future."

Putin called Hurricane Katrina an "absolutely global catastrophe," and said he and Bush discussed how the United States and Russia can cooperate to refine response procedures.

"In Russia, we too will draw our conclusions regarding organization of activities of services related to averting such catastrophes with efficient response to the similar catastrophes which are indeed of a global nature," he said. "This is precisely why we've discussed these tragic events and our cooperation as regards averting these ... catastrophes, infectious disease and so forth. I'm sure if we pool our effort, then our activities will become more efficient."

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