Russia to boost anti-Taliban forces
MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has detailed Russia's plans to assist the U.S. campaign against terrorism -- including military aid to the Afghan opposition.
Putin said Moscow would go so far as to exchange intelligence -- but stop short of allowing U.S. warplanes to use Russian airspace or airports.
In a brief statement televised on Monday evening, Putin said there would be "active co-operation" of Russian, American and international secret services in intelligence gathering and exchange.
He said Russian air space would be opened for humanitarian aid and that Russia would participate in search and rescue operations in the area where anti-terrorist operations are underway.
Putin also said Russia would expand its co-operation with the opposition in Afghanistan, including supplying military aid.
He said the Central Asian republics share Russia's position but are free to decide if their airspace and air bases can be used by the U.S. military.
Putin said the coordination of Russia's participation would be placed in the hands of Sergei Ivanov, the Russian defence minister.
He added that the conflict in Chechnya could not be viewed outside the context of the combat against terrorism.
Over the weekend, Putin talked with leaders of five Central Asian nations to discuss coordinating actions in the wake of the terror attacks on the U.S.
The nations, all former Soviet republics, were Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, which are on the Afghan border, and Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, which are close to Afghanistan.
Putin conducted the conversations by telephone from the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Putin also met over the weekend with the chief of the general staff, Anatoly Kvashnin, and Viktor Komogorov, deputy director of the FSB, the successor agency to the KGB. According to a Putin spokesman, they informed the president of their recent trips to Central Asia and "coordination of action with partners."
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