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Blair, Putin Pledge Anti-Terror Cooperation

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Russia's President Vladimir Putin pledged Wednesday to cooperate closely in fighting terrorism, with Blair hailing the countries' common "spirit of determination" on the issue.

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Putin and Blair held bilateral talks after a Russia-EU summit

The two nations also issued a joint statement pledging to work together on the issue as Putin ended a brief visit to London.

"Russia and the Russian people, like Britain and the British people, know the threats that this global terrorism poses, but we also share the same spirit of determination not to be defeated by them," Blair said.

He and Putin addressed reporters at Downing Street following talks, with the Russian leader also being taken on a tour of Britain's anti-terror nerve center. "We had, actually, a fascinating discussion just now about the dangers and the risks that are posed to us. We agreed to work closely together on counter-terrorism for the future," Blair said.

Putin, speaking after he gave awards to a team of British rescuers whose remote-control vehicle saved the crew of a Russian mini-submarine trapped on the ocean floor in August, echoed the comments.

"The Russian side is very satisfied with the outcome and the course of our discussions, and we are appreciative of the candidness which was demonstrated by the British side... in discussions about all issues, including sensitive ones," he said.

The joint statement expressed similar sentiments referring to recent terrorist attacks against both countries: "Today we confirm our total condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and our decision to strengthen current co-operation in fighting it."

Putin tours Cobra center

Russisches U-Boot geborgen

A British remote-controlled vehicle cut away the undersea cables that had snarled a Russian mini-submarine in which seven sailors were trapped for nearly three days under the Pacific Ocean in August.

Earlier Wednesday, Putin was shown around the Cobra complex, the top-security British government base in central London where the responses to terrorist attacks and other civil emergencies are co-ordinated.

It was here that Blair and other ministers gathered after the

July 7 London bombings in which 56 people died, including four suspected suicide attackers. Putin was the first foreign leader to visit Cobra, a Downing Street spokesman said.

Some rights groups have expressed concern that Russian support for US-led efforts against Islamic terrorist groups could mean Washington and London exerting less pressure over alleged abuses in the breakaway republic of Chechnya. However, differences remain, notably Russian anger over Britain's failure to extradite Akhmed Zakayev, a leading Chechen separatist representative given political asylum.

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