ASTANA, Kazakhstan – Russia gave the Bush administration intelligence after the September 11 attacks that suggested Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq was preparing attacks in the United States, President Vladimir Putin (search) said Friday.
Putin said he couldn't comment on how critical the Russians' information was in the U.S. decision to invade Iraq.
In Washington, a U.S. official said Putin's information did not add to what the United States already knew about Saddam's intentions.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, said the Russian tip did not specify a time or a place where an attack might take place.
The Bush administration in part justified the invasion of Iraq by saying Saddam had links to terror groups, including Al Qaeda (search). The U.S. commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks said this week there was no evidence of any collaboration between Iraq and Usama bin Laden's terror network.
Putin said Russia didn't have any information that Saddam's regime was actually behind any terrorist acts.
"After Sept. 11, 2001, and before the start of the military operation in Iraq, the Russian special services, the intelligence service, received information that officials from Saddam's regime were preparing terrorist attacks in the United States and outside it against the U.S. military and other interests," Putin said.
He said President Bush personally thanked one of the leaders of Russia's intelligence agencies for the information. There was no immediate comment from U.S. officials.
"It's one thing to have information that Saddam's regime is preparing terrorist attacks, (but) we didn't have information that it was involved in any known terrorist attacks," Putin said in the Kazakh capital Astana after regional economic and security summits.
Putin said the intelligence didn't cause Russia to waver from its firm opposition to the war.
"Despite that information about terrorist attacks being prepared by Saddam's regime, Russia's position on Iraq remains unchanged," Putin said.
Putin didn't elaborate on any details of the terror plots or mention whether they were tied to the Al Qaeda terror network.
The Sept. 11 commission reported this week that while there were contacts between Al Qaeda and Iraq, they did not appear to have produced "a collaborative relationship."
Bush, however, insisted Thursday that Saddam had "numerous contacts" with Al Qaeda and said Iraqi agents had met with the terror network's leader, Usama bin Laden, in Sudan.
Saddam "was a threat because he had terrorist connections — not only Al Qaeda connections, but other connections to terrorist organizations," Bush said.
Also Thursday, a top Russian diplomat called for international inspectors to conclusively resolve the question of whether Iraq had any weapons of mass destruction — one of the main reasons Bush used to justify the war. No such weapons have been found since Saddam's fall.
"This problem must be resolved ... because to a great extent it became the pretext for the start of the war against Iraq," Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov said in Moscow, according to Interfax news agency.
He said such a finding would allow the U.N. Security Council to "turn a page and finally close the dossier on Iraqi weapons."