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Obama: Russia has 'enormous stake' in thwarting Olympic terror

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

President Barack Obama said Thursday that Russia had an "enormous stake" in thwarting terrorism at the Sochi Olympics, adding that Washington was doing everything it could to keep athletes safe.

"The Russians have an enormous stake, obviously, in preventing any kind of terrorist act or violence at these venues. They have put a lot of resources into it," Obama said in an interview with US Olympic television host NBC.

"We're in constant communications with them, both at the law enforcement level, at the military level, at the intelligence levels," Obama said in excerpts from the interview to be broadcast later Thursday.

"We are consistently working with them to make sure that not only our athletes are safe, but everyone who's attending these Games are safe."

Obama said it was not unusual for US law enforcement and intelligence agencies to seek to work closely with Olympic hosts on security.

But the prickly ties between Moscow and Washington and a clear lack of trust, has hampered the process ahead of the Sochi Games, which open Friday.

US officials have drawn unflattering comparisons between the security cooperation at this Olympics and that achieved with US allies Britain and Canada, who hosted Summer and Winter Olympics in 2012 and 2010.

Several weeks ago, US officials privately complained that the Russian side had been unwilling to share threat information ahead of the Games.

In his interview, Obama did not directly say that the Games were fully secured, though he did say they were safe in an interview last week.

Washington has warned its citizens traveling to the Games to take extra precautions to ensure their security. Two US warships are on station in the Black Sea to be available in the event of any security emergency or if an evacuation of Americans becomes necessary.

Earlier Thursday, Washington announced a temporary ban on travelers taking liquids, gels or aerosols aboard Russia-bound flights following a warning extremists could put explosives in toothpaste or cosmetic tubes in an attempt to disrupt the Olympics in the Russian resort of Sochi.

Concerns over security at the Games, which open on Friday, skyrocketed after two suicide attacks that killed 34 people in the southern Russian city of Volgograd in December, blamed on extremist militants from the Northern Caucasus region.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140206/obama-russia-has-enormous-stake-thwarting-olympic-terror