Armenia Offers Action Against ‘International Terrorism’

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenia–acting on behalf of a defense grouping of six former Soviet states–called Thursday for joint action against international terror networks which it said were behind Tuesday’s devastating attacks on the United States. President Robert Kocharian–who holds the rotating presidency in the Russian-dominated Collective Security Treaty–said its signatories are ready to provide support for a global fight against terrorism.

"Only a collective consciousness and collective actions can effectively counter international terrorism," he said in a statement. "We once again affirm our readiness to immediately act in that direction."

Kocharian condemned as "barbaric" the shock attacks on New York and Washington–saying that they exposed a "rapidly growing danger of international terrorism." The statement did not specify where that danger stems from.

The ex-Soviet defense alliance–which brings together Armenia–Belarus–Kazakhstan–Kyrgyzstan–Russia and Tajikistan–declared the struggle against "international terrorism and extremism" one of its main goals at a summit in Yerevan last May. Moscow views its two-year military campaign in the breakaway region of Chechnya–criticized in the West for leading to widespread human rights abuses–as part of the effort.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov repeated this position at the start of an official visit to Armenia earlier in the day. "That all these [events] – Chechnya–the Balkans etc. – are interconnected is–I think–clear and obvious to everybody," he told journalists.

Ivanov referred to Afghanistan as the center of a "worldwide web" of terrorism–but stopped short of directly implicating Saudi dissident Osama Bin Laden in the four aircraft crashes. Ivanov said it would be "premature" to plan any retaliatory strikes against suspected terrorist targets before the US investigators identify the masterminds of the mass killings.

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