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Saturday, 22 December, 2001, 15:32 GMT
'Constructive' Blair-Putin talks end
Vladimir Putin and his wife Lyudmila listen to Tony Blair outside Chequers
Vladimir Putin and his wife stayed at Chequers
Russian President Vladimir Putin has flown back to Moscow from Britain after two days of talks with Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The two leaders have agreed to form a working group in which Russian and British intelligence services will share information to help combat terrorism.


Relations between our countries have strengthened

Tony Blair
Closer relations between Russia and Nato as well as the US missile defence programme were also discussed, as well as developments in Afghanistan.

During the visit Mr Blair praised his Russian counterpart for the part he has played in the coalition against terror forged in the wake of 11 September.

He also described the working relationship between the UK and Russia as "unprecedentedly close" since the terror attacks.

He said the close relationship of their two countries had would have been unthinkable a few years ago.

Mr Blair also praised Russia's support for military and diplomatic action in the United Nations.

After the first day of talks on Friday the two countries agreed to share information between the foreign intelligence service MI6 and its equivalent in Moscow, the FSB.

Common goals

Mr Blair said there had been widespread acceptance of a new role for Russia within Nato, and that there would now be more detailed discussions on the prospect of this happening in the future.

Mr Blair said the two countries shared common interests and common goals both in terms of international security and international trade.

He said he strongly supported Russia's membership of the World Trade Organisation, and wanted it to happen "as swiftly as possible".

The prime minister went on to say there was widespread agreement that conditions in Russia had been completely transformed, that the economic reforms were seen to be working and the country was eager to invest.

Mr Putin told a joint news conference that his talks with Mr Blair had been "very constructive".

He said two countries had not only understood the common threat of terrorism but the need to fight it together.

Dynamic

On Russia's proposed new relationship with Nato, Mr Putin said it was "one of the few realistic possibilities to change the situation in the world, with a view to creating a single security system in Europe".

"Russia is ready for such a relationship," said Mr Putin.

He added that his country was willing to accept a role as a part-time member of the alliance, if that was what was on offer.

"Russia has absolutely no claims on (Nato) defence policy but there are areas where we can act jointly," he said.

He went on to say he hoped Russia's ties with the EU should continue to develop dynamically in terms of both political dialogue and in terms of trade and economic relations.

Mr Putin, accompanied by wife Lyudmila, stayed with Mr Blair at his official country residence, Chequers in Buckinghamshire, for the duration of his visit.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Bridget Kendall
"Relations with Russia have completely transformed"
Andrey Cherkasov of the Russian TV station NTV
"Blair was the author of the new initiative"
See also:

21 Dec 01 | UK Politics
UK and Russia unite against terror
20 Dec 01 | UK Politics
War on Terror: 100 days
20 Dec 01 | South Asia
Green light for Afghan force
20 Dec 01 | UK Politics
UK hails anti-terror progress
17 Nov 01 | UK Politics
Blair pushes Russia-Nato ties
04 Oct 01 | Europe
Russia is 'safe partner' for West
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