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Russia: Blair To Meet Putin In Moscow

Moscow, 4 October 2001 (RFE/RL) -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair meets Russian President Vladimir Putin today in an unofficial visit to Moscow. Their talks are expected to focus on the fight against terrorism and Russia's relations with NATO. Yesterday, Putin met NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson in Brussels.

Putin called for "an entirely new look" at NATO enlargement, saying the alliance is becoming a more political organization.

He said Moscow may ease its opposition to NATO's eastward expansion if Russia is more fully involved in consultations. Putin says he plans to discuss this option with Blair.

Russia has opposed further NATO expansion as a threat to its security.

Putin also led a delegation at a Russia-European Union summit.

He said the creation of a common European security space is urgent in the aftermath of the recent terrorist attacks on the U.S.

Blair is scheduled to travel to Pakistan tomorrow for talks with top officials on that country's role in the fight against terrorism.

In other news, Russia says it will evacuate family members of its diplomatic corps stationed in Pakistan and any other Russian citizens who wish to leave the country.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement today that the decision was made due to the "aggravation of the situation" in Pakistan and the neighboring region following the 11 September terror attacks in the United States.

The Foreign Ministry said evacuation points will be organized in Islamabad and Karachi. It said more than 100 Russians will be affected by the decision.