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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Blair Meets Putin For Talks on Terror

ReutersBlair arriving in Moscow on Thursday. He met later with Putin to discuss terrorism.
After declaring that there was no doubt that Osama bin Laden was behind terror attacks on the United States, British Prime Minister Tony Blair flew in and held talks Thursday evening with President Vladimir Putin on the U.S.-led fight against terrorism.

At the start of the meeting, Blair had warm words for Putin's leadership.

"We would like to pay tribute to your leadership which is of immense importance in bringing together a coalition against terrorism," Blair said.

Putin said Blair's visit offered a "very important opportunity" for discussions.

Shortly before boarding a plane to Russia, Blair told an extraordinary session of his country's parliament that lawmakers would be given documents directly implicating bin Laden in the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

Blair said there was other evidence "of a more direct nature" that was not possible to disclose for security reasons.

"We have absolutely no doubt that bin Laden and his network were responsible for the attacks on Sept. 11," he told the session.

Blair said he was flying to Moscow to further strengthen the international coalition against terrorism.

"What we have encountered is an unprecedented level of solidarity and commitment to work together against terrorism," he said.

Putin has cast strong support behind the U.S.-led coalition, offering Russia's airspace for humanitarian flights and pledging to provide Afghanistan's opposition forces battling the ruling Taliban militia with weapons and equipment.

Putin has also urged former Soviet republics in Central Asia to provide their airspace and bases for the coalition.

There have been unconfirmed reports that some U.S. planes had already landed in Uzbekistan, and U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is expected to visit the Central Asian nation at the end of the week.

Russian officials have said they had shared intelligence information with the United States to help hunt down bin Laden and his followers, who are being sheltered by the Taliban in the labyrinth of Afghan mountain caves and tunnels. Both U.S. officials and Russian veterans of the Soviet 10-year war in Afghanistan said intelligence data are essential for the success of the operation.

Putin said that Russia may also provide other assistance to the coalition in the future.

He has said that Moscow wasn't immediately going to join international military action in Afghanistan, saying that the nation hadn't yet overcome the trauma from the botched Soviet war there.

Interfax reported that Blair would leave Moscow on Friday morning and head to Pakistan.

Blair's office refused to say when the prime minister would return to London.

The office also would not comment on reports that the prime minister would visit Pakistan and possibly Oman.