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Putin offers condolences on anniversary of September 11 attacks

NOVO-OGARYOVO, September 11 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin conveyed a message of condolences on Friday to the United States on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Speaking at a meeting of the Valdai discussion club outside Moscow, the premier said: "This is the date on which the United States and the whole world was hit by a terrible tragedy, the terrorist attack on the U.S., which resulted in great loss of life. We, as we did several years ago, mourn these victims."

"I believe that this is yet another reminder that in the war against universal threats, we must put behind us all possible contradictions and arguments, and join forces," he said.

In the U.S., memorial services will be held at the sites of the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

At 8:46 a.m., the moment American Airlines Flight 11 hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center, the first of four moments of silence will be observed at a ceremony in New York.

President Barack Obama will and Defense Secretary Robert Gates will take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Pentagon, where 184 people were died when AA Flight 77 crashed into the building, and will meet with families of the victims.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama would "speak about what the day means and the sacrifices of thousands, not just at the Pentagon, but in Pennsylvania and certainly and most obviously in New York".

Colin Powell, who was secretary of state at the time of the attacks, will address a memorial service at the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93 outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Eight years on from the plane hijackings by al-Qaida terrorists, in which almost 3,000 people were killed, the site of the World Trade Center is still under construction. A memorial being built at an estimated cost of $58 million is expected to open at Ground Zero on the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

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