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Zyuganov warns Europe against war on Islam

HELSINKI, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Russian Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov slammed the U.S. bombing campaign against Afghanistan on Wednesday and warned Europe not to be drawn into a war on Islam.

"If Europe gets pulled into a battle against the Islamic world, it would be the biggest calamity since World War Two," Zyuganov told a news conference in the Finnish capital.

Zyuganov, who failed to win Russia's presidency in 1996 and 2000 but still commands the support of a quarter of the electorate, said he had told President Vladimir Putin that Russians would not support a policy of joining NATO in a fight against terrorism.

Putin has backed the U.S.-led bombings of targets associated with the ruling fundamentalist Taliban in Afghanistan, in sharp contrast to Russia's opposition to the 1999 NATO air campaign against Yugoslavia.

Putin has agreed to let Washington use Russian airspace for humanitarian and rescue missions and given the green light for ex-Soviet Central Asian states to do the same in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the United States.

"We think the world has exhausted all possible means of solving conflicts with weapons... No one can fight against terrorism by bombing with Tomahawk (cruise missiles)," Zyuganov said through an interpreter.

Zyuganov said the United States had declared a new Pax Americana policy stipulating that countries either stood with the United States or against it, and he called it outdated.

"We consider this an irreparably outmoded policy of the 19th century which will not lead to anything good," he said. "We are strictly against this kind of American policy -- it is the policy of blackmail and violence."

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