- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 30, 2001

MOSCOW Russian President Vladimir Putin has urged the loose post-Soviet alliance called the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to present a united front in support of a U.S. anti-terror campaign.
His comments on Friday coincided with the first official confirmation that at least one American cargo plane used former Soviet air space last week to cross into the Central Asian republic of Uzbekistan for an unspecified operation in neighboring Afghanistan.
The news marked a landmark shift in post-Cold War relations between Moscow and Washington and cemented Mr. Putin's pledge on Monday to aid NATO efforts to crack down on suspected terror bases in Russia's southern backyard.
On Monday, Mr. Putin said CIS countries support Washington's efforts against terrorism and would open their air spaces and bases to some U.S. flights headed for Afghanistan.
Mr. Putin told CIS prime ministers gathered in Moscow on Friday that they must openly assist Washington's effort to track down prime terror suspect Osama bin Laden.
"We have agreed that we will act from a united platform, be led by the same principles and agreements," Mr. Putin told the Moscow meeting in televised remarks.
At his urging, the 12 prime ministers adopted a joint declaration stating that "terrorism must be combated in unison with the entire international community."
The Moscow meeting came two days after CIS army chiefs held closed-door talks focused on ways to "step up a joint fight against terrorism."
That meeting was chaired by Russia's chief of staff, Gen. Anatoly Kvashnin, and revolved around the use of a recently created CIS anti-terrorist intelligence center.
Negotiations over intelligence sharing coincided with a U.S. press report that elite U.S. and British special forces have been stationed in Afghanistan for nearly two weeks in search of bin Laden.

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