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Monday, 17 September, 2001, 17:30 GMT 18:30 UK
US says Russia rules nothing out
Pentagon rubble
Missile defence could not have saved the Pentagon
A senior United States diplomat, in Moscow for talks on strategic issues, has said Russia remains open about the launch of possible attacks on Afghanistan from former Soviet states.

Vladimir Putin
President Putin has pledged co-operation, but military help is unlikely
"I don't think they have ruled anything in or anything out," said US Undersecretary of State, John Bolton.

Russia's Defence Minister, Sergei Ivanov, had said on Friday that the ex-Soviet states of Central Asia could not be used for an attack on Afghanistan.

However, on Monday Uzbekistan - one of three Central Asian states bordering Afghanistan - said it was ready to discuss all forms of co-operation in the battle against terrorism.

Missile defence

Mr Bolton was in the Russian capital for scheduled talks over missile defence, but his meetings were dominated by the question of co-operation against international terrorism.

While missile defence would not have prevented this abomination, it does show that the United States faces severe threats

US envoy John Bolton
Nonetheless he used the opportunity to restate the US case for the proposed shield.

"While missile defence would not have prevented this abomination, it does show that the United States faces severe threats from terrorism and from rogue states," Mr Bolton said.

But Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said: "There is a single way - seeking answers to threats and challenges on a multilateral basis".

The Russians oppose any changes to existing arms control treaties.

Operations not discussed

Washington can count on diplomatic and moral support from Moscow.

The Russians, who also oppose the Americans' prime suspect, Osama Bin Laden, for his role in the Chechen conflict, have offered to share intelligence on Islamic extremist groups operating in Central Asia.

Russian girl
A Russian girl shows solidarity with the US victims
But Moscow has given mixed signals about its attitude to military intervention.

President Putin has warned the United States to assess carefully the consequences of any such action, but intially signalled its assent to a tough US response.

On Monday Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo, embarking on a tour of Central Asia, said: "Without doubt it is impossible not to respond to acts of international terrorism. But... all the negative consequences must be taken into account."

Mr Bolton said that he had not discussed operational matters in his talks.

"I think there will be extensive consultations to follow on operational questions. But those are not things we talked about today," he said.

The BBC's Jacky Rowland
"This shield could not have done anything to protect the United States against these terrorist attacks"
See also:

16 Jul 01 | Europe
Why Russia fears US 'Star Wars'
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