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U.S.-Russia talks on terror threat

Russian border guards observe Afghan territory controlled on the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border
Russian border guards observe Afghan territory controlled on the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border  

MOSCOW, Russia -- Talks between a U.S. delegation and Russian officials over potential terrorist threats from Afghanistan are due to begin on Wednesday.

The U.S. team, led by Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, was to meet with First Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Trubnikov, a former director of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service.

Russia has backed the U.S. call for a war on terrorism, though officials have cautioned against hasty retaliation.

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They say Russia is unlikely to take part in any U.S. strikes against Afghanistan.

There is also concern in some circles about Russia's southern neighbours allowing U.S. forces to launch strikes from their territory.

On Tuesday, the chairman of the parliament's foreign relations committee, Dmitry Rogozin, opposed the idea in a meeting with U.S. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow, Reuters reported.

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"I told the ambassador bluntly that I would oppose letting the United States use bases in Central Asia because Americans may turn them into permanent residence," Rogozin was quoted as saying by Interfax.

But Vershbow, speaking at a memorial ceremony for victims of last week's attacks on the U.S., said: "I'm convinced that the public solidarity we have seen in the past week will bring our two countries together on this challenge."

Russian deputies are on Wednesday debating Moscow's policy on terrorism following last week's attacks.

Deputies of the State Duma lower house were scheduled to discuss resolutions which would give backing for President Vladimir Putin to join international efforts to defeat terrorism.

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov is due on Wednesday to meet President George W. Bush and leading members of his administration in Washington.

Vladimir Rushailo, secretary of Russian President Vladimir Putin's Security Council, said in Kazakhstan on Wednesday it was too early to say whether ex-Soviet states could allow U.S. forces to use bases and airspace.

Deputies are discussing a resolution tabled by the centrist OVR bloc which would allow moves to involve Russia in the fight against terrorism.

A second motion says the perpetrators of the U.S. attacks had to be brought to justice, adding that any use of force must be "proportional and rigorously monitored" and should not provoke any destabilisation in the region.

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