Putin Talks to Bush for an Hour About Terrorism, Meets Security Chiefs

President Vladimir Putin, still formulating Russia's stance on America's anti-terrorism campaign, spoke for an hour with President Bush and huddled with his defense and security chiefs in a marathon meeting Saturday.

Putin, a deliberate leader who likes to weigh out all his options, announced no policy decisions after the flurry of consultations.

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said after the all-day meeting with Putin that the security officials had reported measures taken to protect Russian security and prepare for U.S. retaliatory measures. He gave no other details.

In Washington, the White House depicted the Putin-Bush conversation as one in a series to discuss a united front against terrorism. "The president appreciates President Putin's engagement and support in the fight against terrorism," White House spokeswoman Jeanie Mamo said.

The Kremlin press service said only that the two discussed "the situation developing in the world" and their meeting in Shanghai next month.

"We have always been initiators of the effort to unite the forces of the international community in the battle with terror. If we want to win there is no other way," Putin said in comments shown on Russian television. "We must unite forces of all civilized society."

Putin met in the Black Sea resort of Sochi with Russia's defense minister, interior minister, Security Council chief, the head of Russia's key intelligence and security agencies and other officials.

"I count very much on your recommendations," he said, and promised to meet with parliamentary leaders to discuss Russia's strategy.

Putin has said that Russia is ready to cooperate with the United States "in the widest sense." But he has indicated Russia would not offer troops for any U.S. military action and would not welcome any unilateral decisions by the United States.

Russian officials have also bristled at the prospect of U.S. military presence in former Soviet republics of Central Asia that neighbor Afghanistan, which faces a U.S. attack because the Taliban leadership refuses, among other things, to hand over suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants.

Russia fears that U.S. strikes on Afghanistan from Central Asia could unleash a new round of terrorist attacks in Russia itself and weaken Russian influence in the oil-rich region.

The chief of Russia's Armed Forces General Staff, Anatoly Kvashnin, was in Tajikistan, which neighbors Afghanistan, on Saturday. He met with representatives of the Afghan opposition force fighting the Taliban, Ivanov said.

Ivanov also said recent assaults on Russian positions in breakaway Chechnya were connected to the attacks on the United States.

"We believe these are links in the same chain," he said in remarks shown on Russian television.

Russia insists that it is fighting international terrorists in Chechnya, though the United States and other Western governments have criticized Moscow's military campaign.