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CIS: Leaders Show Unity On Fight Against Terrorism

The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) summit in Kazakhstan today was dominated by the issue of terrorism. In the aftermath of the Beslan school siege, the leaders signed a document expressing solidarity with Russia.

16 September 2004 -- Host Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev set the summit's antiterrorism agenda by affirming cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

He said the CIS was considering whether to form a security council to combat collective threats.

"There is a proposal to set up a security council, which will bring together foreign ministers, defense ministers, the heads of border services, and law enforcement agencies," Nazarbaev said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was chosen to lead the CIS, said in addressing the situation in the Georgian separatist region of Abkhazia that peaceful means should be used in the fight against terrorism.

"We are certain that in dealing with conflicts, in general, and particularly those in the post-Soviet area, the only solution is through negotiations and taking into account the interests of all of the concerned parties," Putin said. "We think that economic and, especially, military pressure will not lead toward solving the problems. In other words, it is not the road that can lead us to the temple."

The outgoing CIS chairman, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, referred to the victims of the Beslan school siege in his remarks. Some 330 people died in the siege early this month, including many children.

"Just a moment ago, the leaders of the CIS met behind closed doors," Kuchma said. "They discussed the recent terrorist acts in Russia, which resulted in many victims, and the pain and suffering of many people. I want to emphasize that we view the armed attack on the school in the Ossetian city of Beslan and taking of innocent children as hostages as an unprecedented act of terrorism. It puts the perpetrators outside civilized society."
"We think that economic and, especially, military pressure will not lead toward solving the problems." -- Putin

Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev told the group that he supports a Russian proposal to launch preventive strikes on terrorists.

"We cannot [simply] 'wait and see' until terrorists from Afghanistan or other places come to us," Akaev said. "[If that happens] we would have to fight against them on our own territory and lose our own soldiers and civilians."

Last week, Russia announced that, if needed, it would launch preemptive strikes against terrorists in any part of the globe.

Meanwhile, the leaders also pledged at the summit to work together to counter illegal migration, and illegal financial activities.

The CIS is made up of the former Soviet republics except the three Baltic states. Moldova's President Vladimir Voronin and Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov did not attend the summit.

(wire reports)