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Tuesday, 25 September, 2001, 02:53 GMT 03:53 UK
Russia pledges support for US
A US Army C-5 Galaxy airplane taking off from a base in southern Spain
US planes will now be allowed to use central Asian bases
Russian President Vladimir Putin says Russia will support US operations in Afghanistan and will widen the cooperation with the alliance against terrorism.

Mr Putin outlined his plans in a televised address from the Kremlin, two days after holding a one-hour phone conversation with US President George W Bush.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell welcomed the Russian offer, saying anything which could weaken the Taleban would be helpful.

In Washington, the US administration has moved to cut off the flow of money to Osama Bin Laden, his al-Qaeda network and other groups it suspects of involvement in terrorism.

President Bush announced he had signed an executive order freezing the US assets of 27 individuals and organisations, as the country prepares for military action in response to the suicide attacks on New York and Washington.

In other developments:

  • Afghanistan's ruling Taleban movement admits it has lost ground to opposition forces in heavy fighting in the north of the country

  • Taleban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar says Washington cannot resolve the current crisis by killing either himself or Bin Laden

  • Share prices in the US and Europe post strong gains, recovering some of last week's hefty losses

  • UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw arrives in Iran, seeking Tehran's support for the anti-terrorism campaign

  • A high-level European Union delegation is due to hold talks with the Pakistani government on Tuesday, at the start of a regional tour of Asia and the Middle East

  • The World Health Organisation urges governments to prepare for possible chemical airborne raids

Russia's offer

The BBC's correspondent in Moscow, Caroline Wyatt, says Mr Putin's most important offer to the US was to allow it and its allies to use former Soviet airbases in the central Asian republics surrounding Afghanistan.

Mr Putin said that those states, including Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, shared Russia's position.

Mr Putin also said that Russia would offer more arms and other supplies to the Northern Alliance, the group fighting the Taleban in northern Afghanistan.

And Russia will offer further pooling of intelligence, the president said in his address, given on the eve of a visit to Germany on Tuesday.

Before outlining his plan, Mr Putin held marathon meetings with his top security, defence and intelligence chiefs and met with leading parliament members.

One liberal parliament member was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying that the president has ruled out sending troops into Afghanistan, where the Soviet Union had lost 15,000 soldiers in the 1980s.

Mr Putin also spoke on the phone with the presidents of the five central Asian nations, and met with a group of Russia's Islamic leaders.

Opening shot

In Washington, Mr Bush described his executive order as a "strike on the financial foundation of the global terror network," saying this was the opening shot of a war against terrorism that would be waged on several fronts.

"Money is the life-blood of terrorist operations," the president said during a news conference in the White House Rose Garden. "Today, we're asking the world to stop payment."

US Attorney General John Ashcroft has meanwhile confirmed that one of the suspects recently arrested in connection to the attacks on New York and Washington had sought data on using a crop-dusting plane.

This has raised concern that militants have also been planning an airborne chemical attack in the US.

As part of the heightened state of security in the US, federal aviation officials said they were considering banning carry-on baggage and early seat selection.

Two-thirds of the US' major cities are planning to revise their emergency procedures in the light of the 11 September attacks, according to a report published on Monday.

The BBC's Kally Adderkin-Hall
"The US says this is part of Russia's on going co-operation with America"
Anatol Levin, Russian Affairs Analyst
"Russia has been backing the Afghan forces fighting the Taleban for many years"
The BBC's Tim Franks in Washington
"It is an unprecedented step for Mr Putin"
See also:

24 Sep 01 | Americas
US to produce Bin Laden evidence
18 Sep 01 | South Asia
Who is Osama Bin Laden?
22 Sep 01 | Business
Terror attacks shares probe
19 Sep 01 | Business
Following the money trail
24 Sep 01 | Business
Will Bush's asset freeze work?
16 Sep 01 | Americas
Analysis: Building a coalition
25 Sep 01 | Europe
A significant step for Russia
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