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    PUTIN REPLACED KUCHMA AS CHAIRMAN OF COUNCIL OF CIS HEADS OF STATE

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    ASTANA, September 16 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's President Vladimir Putin was elected the new chairman of the Council of the CIS Heads of State at the Thursday session of the CIS summit.

    He thanked President Leonid Kuchma for his work as his predecessor, saying that the Ukrainian leader created "an atmosphere that was conducive to effective work, which proceeded rather efficiently." According to Putin, "it was a fine example of the experience of [Leonid] Kuchma, who has been holding a state post for a long time and has been doing it with the highest possible standards."

    The CIS heads of state confirmed their resolve to fight international terrorism and plan to take measures to root out the reasons of terrorism in the CIS. They also expressed solidarity with Russia's struggle against terrorism.

    "We are unanimous that modern terrorism threatens all states and should be combated by concerted efforts," President Leonid Kuchma said opening the enlarged session of the CIS heads of state in his capacity of chairman. "We confirm our firm resolve to do everything possible to effectively combat any forms and types of terrorism."

    Mr. Kuchma stressed that the struggle against terrorism was at the top of the session's agenda. As he put it, the issue of collective resistance to terrorism is "broad and multifaceted." We should start by spotlighting the settlement of conflicts in the CIS, in particular the so-called frozen conflicts which may blow up and destabilize the situation in the whole of the region.

    "We should take emergency measures to improve the socio-economic situation in the conflict zones and adjacent regions," said the Ukrainian president. "Mass unemployment, chronic poverty and lack of confidence in their future force people to take up crime and turn them into accomplices of terrorism."

    Leonid Kuchma calls for signing a CIS treaty on combating the legalization of criminal incomes and terrorism financing. He recalled in his speech that the work on the document began back in 1999. "The current situation is spotlighting the need to give priority attention to this work in order to complete it without further delay," he said.

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