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U.S.: Putin Condemns Attacks; Arms Talks, NATO Meeting Cancelled

Moscow, 12 September 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed sympathy to Americans and condemned yesterday's terror attacks against American targets in Washington and New York City. Putin met in Moscow with top Russian security officials following the attacks.

Russian security services and the Interior Ministry are reported to have taken precautions to prevent any new terror attacks in Russia. Scheduled Russian air force exercises and civilian training flights have been cancelled.

In a message to U.S. President George W. Bush, Putin said Russians, who have also suffered from terrorism, understand the pain felt by Americans and the families of the victims of the attacks.

Putin called the attacks inhuman and barbarous and said they must not go unpunished. Putin said the entire international community should unite in the struggle against terrorism.

Putin's office said the Russian president had spoken to British Prime Minister Tony Blair to discuss the aftermath of the attacks in the United States.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov assured U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that Russia is ready to hand over any information it has which could help identify the attackers.

The two spoke in a telephone conversation. Ivanov also spoke with U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

In other news, U.S. and Russian officials reportedly have cancelled talks on U.S. missile defense plans because of yesterday's terrorist attacks.

The Russian RIA Novosti news agency based its report on information from Russian sources.

The talks between U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton and Russian Deputy Foreign minister Georgy Mamedov had been scheduled to take place today and tomorrow.

Separately, NATO officials cancelled a two-day meeting of the Military Commission due to start in Budapest today. Organizers of the meeting said officials were returning to their respective capitals.

The United Nations cancelled yesterday's opening session of its annual General Assembly. UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said the session was tentatively rescheduled for today.

European Union foreign ministers will meet today in an emergency session in Brussels today in response to the terror attacks.

Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhoefstadt described the attacks as a "tragedy for the whole world." Belgium currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

A special meeting of European parliamentary leaders open to all European deputies also will take place in Brussels.

In Iran, President Mohammad Khatami is quoted as condemning the wave of terrorist attacks in the United States.

The official Islamic Republic News Agency said Khatami expressed the Iranian people's and government's condemnation of the "terrorist attacks" on public centers in New York and Washington.

Khatami said the attacks had killed a large number of "innocent people." He offered sympathy and regret for the deaths.

Khatami said the international community should take effective measures to eradicate terrorism.

Iran and the United States have had no diplomatic relations since the U.S. embassy in Tehran was seized by Iranian revolutionaries in 1980.