Russian Foreign Minister Pledges Cooperation

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov pledged Wednesday to work "cooperatively and in solidarity" with a U.S. counterterror campaign, promising Secretary of State Colin Powell to lend his nation's support unlinked to more contentious issues.

Russia already is telling U.S. officials what it knows about different terrorist groups and maintaining "continuous contact" between Russian and U.S. foreign and special services, Ivanov said after meeting with President Bush.

"I stressed that Russia, which has suffered all the atrocities of terror, is in full solidarity with the American people at this particular moment," Ivanov said.

"The world should be resolved to -- cooperatively and in solidarity -- act very decisively against terrorism. We discussed with the president of the United States specific steps geared toward this."

Ivanov and other Russian leaders made no conditions for their support, despite differences between the two nations on issues including Russia's rebellious Chechnya region and a U.S. missile defense plan that would violate the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, said Powell.

"We all talked about all of these items as we always do -- missile defense, ABM, Chechnya -- but they presented no linkages between that and the current incident," Powell said. "The current tragedy that we're dealing with -- they were very forthcoming, they want to be helpful, and they didn't put any specific requests or bills with links on the table."

Standing beside Powell during a news conference after their meeting, Ivanov said Wednesday's meeting -- the eighth between the two leaders -- helped bring the two sides closer to an agreement on some issues.

"On the other issues, we are continuing active consultations," he said through a translator. "We have agreed to continue these consultations to be able to report the first results during the forthcoming summits of our presidents."

President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to meet next month in China during an economic summit conference and then again in November, when Putin is to visit Bush's ranch in Texas.

Ivanov also was to meet with congressional leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and the minority leader, Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss.

Ivanov expressed condolences from Russia to reporters. He said last week's terrorist attacks reaffirms the urgent need for the nations to band together.

"There is no doubt that this crime, unprecedented in its scale, goes far beyond the borders of the United States," he said. "The international terrorism has caused a blatant challenge to all civilized humanity, to all the civilized world."

The Soviet Union pulled out of Afghanistan in 1989 after a brutal, decade-long war, and Moscow has intimate knowledge of the mountainous country's terrain. It may still have intelligence contacts that would be valuable to Washington if the United States undertakes military action against Usama bin Laden, named by U.S. officials as the No. 1 suspect in last week's terrorist attacks.

Ivanov pointed out, though, that the Russians' experience in Afghanistan was 20 years ago and that the situation there is different now.

In Moscow, the chief of Russia's General Staff, Gen. Anatoly Kvashnin, pointed out that the nation "has not considered and is not planning to consider participation in a military operation against Afghanistan."