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Friday, 28 September, 2001, 17:05 GMT 18:05 UK
Putin urges CIS joint anti-terror action
Mr Putin meets Russian Islamic religious leaders
Mr Putin said terrorists had nothing to do with Islam
By the BBC's Russian affairs analyst Stephen Dalziel

Russian President Vladimir Putin has urged the leaders of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) not to confuse terrorism with Islam.

Terrorism must be combated in unison with the entire international community

CIS statement
Mr Putin's comments were made during a meeting he was chairing in Moscow of the prime ministers of the 12 members of the CIS.

Mr Putin said all the CIS countries were multi-ethnic and multi-faith societies, and that "terrorists who used Islamic slogans had nothing in common with that religion".

The meeting came as it was confirmed that at least one US cargo plane did use former Soviet air space earlier this week.

Mr Putin also confirmed that Moscow had agreed to support the anti-terrorism campaign led by the United States after consulting the presidents of the Central Asian republics and other CIS countries.

Russia's lasting influence

When Mr Putin confirmed in a televised address on Monday that Russia and other CIS member states were prepared to offer practical help to the US, it was an illustration of the new atmosphere of cooperation with the West.

It also showed that, almost 10 years after the formation of the CIS heralded the collapse of the Soviet Union, many of the former Soviet republics still look to Moscow before making important foreign policy decisions.

Help from the CIS could be crucial in any future US military operation against Afghanistan.

Three CIS countries - Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan - border on Afghanistan.

The defence of Tajikistan's frontier is in the hands of Russian border guards.

Closer US-CIS ties

As well as this, intelligence information from these countries could be very valuable for the US.

And Russia has this week publicly acknowledged that it has been helping the anti-Taleban Northern Alliance in Afghanistan for years.

The CIS meeting ended with a joint statement declaring that "terrorism must be combated in unison with the entire international community".

There is the feeling also that some CIS members - notably Uzbekistan - may try to use the co-operation with the US to pursue their own aims for closer ties in the future.

See also:

25 Sep 01 | Europe
A significant step for Russia
19 Sep 01 | Europe
Russians find new empathy with US
17 Sep 01 | Europe
US says Russia rules nothing out
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