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U.S. Defense Secretary discusses Olympics, terrorism with Russians

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U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel telephoned Russia's defense minister on Saturday to discuss security for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, as well as recent terrorists attacks and threats in Russia, a Pentagon official reported.

The Pentagon's press secretary, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, reported on Saturday that Secretary Hagel on behalf of the United States military offered his condolences to Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu for the recent terrorist attacks in Volgograd.

Hagel also condemned the terrorist attacks and said the United States stands with the Russian people against terrorism, Kirby said.

“The leaders discussed the need to remain vigilant against these threats and considered additional opportunities to deepen our nations’ counterterrorism cooperation,” said Adm. Kirby.

"[Secretary] Hagel also assured Defense Minister Shoigu that the United States stands ready to provide security assistance to Russia for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, if requested," he added.

But U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., a former Marine and FBI agent, appearing on Fox News Channel's Judge Jeanine Pirro Show on Saturday, stated, "We cannot sweep these threats under the rug, like we did with Benghazi or the warnings from Russia on the Tsarnaev brother behind the Boston Marathon bombing."

"Each time we fail to recognize these threats, we not only risk the lives of innocent Americans, but appear weaker and vulnerable in the eyes of the enemy. In doing so, we allow the terrorists to become emboldened and continue their reign of terror throughout the world – attacking us and our allies," said the New York congressman who co-chairs of the House Russian Caucus.

Two suicide bombings struck the Russian city of Volgograd last week. The first suicide bomber attacked a railway station last Sunday and while another bomber attacked a city bus on Monday, leaving at least 34 people dead and about 100 others wounded.

Those terrorist attacks -- perpetrated by suspected radical Muslims -- have increased concerns regarding the security and public safety for the upcoming Winter Games scheduled for Feb. 6-23, 2014, in Sochi, Russia.

President Vladimir Putin has already ordered the National Anti-Terrorism Committee (NAC) to tighten security throughout Russia after the two improvised explosive device (IED) blasts in Volgograd.

Putin on New Year's Day visited some of the victims of the terror blasts in Volgograd, a city of one million people in central Russia that has endured suicide bombings since October. He also discussed public security with high ranking officials.



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