Russia outlines how it will cooperate with U.S.
MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday that Russia has worked out how it will aid the U.S. campaign on terrorism -- going so far as to exchange intelligence, but stopping short of allowing U.S. warplanes to use Russian airspace or airports.
In a brief statement televised Monday evening, Putin said the plan has five points:
-- "Active cooperation" of Russian, American and international secret services in intelligence gathering and exchange;
-- Russia will open its airspace for so-called humanitarian missions;
-- The Central Asian republics -- including Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan -- share Russia's position, but are free to decide if their airspace and air bases can be used by the U.S. military;
-- Russia will participate in search and rescue operations in the area where anti-terrorist operations are underway; and,
-- Russia will expand its cooperation with the Afghan opposition, including providing military aide.
Putin said the coordination of Russia's participation in the international anti-terrorism effort will be in the hands of Sergei Ivanov, the Russian defense minister.
Putin also said Chechnya cannot be viewed outside the context of the combat against terrorism. Russia has been locked in a longtime struggle with separatist forces in Chechnya, a one-time autonomous republic within Russia's national borders. Most Chechens are Sunni Muslims.
U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reacted Monday afternoon to one element of Putin's five-point plan, saying he would not comment on whether or not the U.S. was assisting anti-Taliban forces in Afghanistan, as Russia said it would.
"They have been in contact with the Northern Alliance for some time," Rumsfeld said, referring to the last group of fighters to hold its own portion of Afghan territory against the ruling Taliban. The alliance, which has offered the U.S. its assistance in rooting out Osama bin Laden and elements of the al Qaeda terror network, hold some 10 percent of Afghanistan, most of that in the northwest, bordering several former Soviet republics.
"We don't have any announcements to make with respect to the activities of Afghanistan's Northern Alliance or various tribes in the southern part of the country. We are considering a whole range of things," Rumsfeld said.
Meanwhile, the U.S. ambassador to Uzbekistan denied reports Monday that U.S. servicemen have arrived in there. Uzbekistan -- which is fighting its own fierce radical Muslim insurgency -- borders Afghanistan to the northwest.
Russia's Interfax news agency reported that the U.S. ambassador to Uzbekistan, John Herbst, dismissed reports about the arrival of U.S. planes and special troops in Uzbekistan.
In an unofficial meeting with journalists in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, he described such reports as misinformation. Herbst noted, however, that in fighting against terrorism, the United States is looking for cooperation and international support. The U.S. intends to cooperate with Uzbekistan, he said, adding that the U.S. and Uzbekistan often cooperate in military-technical endeavors.
And, Interfax also reported that Ukraine, the former Soviet republic, has agreed to allow the United States to use its airspace in the event of a military strike.
The Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council (SNBO) agreed to meet a U.S. request to make the country's airspace available, if necessary, for American military transport aircraft, Interfax reported.
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