http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/nation/terror/20041103-0827-election-putin.html Putin says Bush win means U.S. not scared of terror MOSCOW Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday welcomed a victory for George W. Bush in the U.S. presidential race, saying it meant Americans had not allowed themselves to be cowed by terrorists. "If Bush wins, then I can only feel joy that the American people did not allow itself to be intimidated, and made the most sensible decision," Putin said at a Kremlin news conference after talks with Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi. He was speaking before Democratic challenger John Kerry conceded victory to Bush in Tuesday's vote. Ex-KGB agent Putin and former oilman Bush have forged a close relationship that Russian opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq has not derailed. They stress their partnership in the struggle against Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda movement. "I am convinced that international terrorism gave itself the goal of not allowing the re-election of Bush. The statement by bin Laden in the final stages of the pre-election campaign is the best confirmation of this," Putin said. He was referring to a video statement by bin Laden promising attacks on the United States in retaliation for deaths in Iraq. Putin sounded a note of caution, however, saying relations between Moscow and Washington would not be plain sailing. "Relations will not be easy. Between such countries as the United States and Russia with such a scale of mutual obligations, there are always some problems," he said. "Our relations in the last four years have undergone a big change, for the good of our peoples, of our countries, and for the good of our security," said Putin, adding that he found Bush "a reliable and predictable partner." "Bush has proved to be a firm man, with a strong character, and a coherent policy." Italy's Berlusconi predicted that U.S. foreign policy would continue unchanged. "Bush will continue with the policy that assigns the United States the role of defender and promoter of freedom and democracy," he said at the joint news conference. "The continuation on Bush's part of American policy represents an advantage for us." But he also said he believed Bush would have to pursue a multilateral foreign policy in order to pursue the war against international terrorism, establish peace in Iraq and advance the cause of peace in the Middle East. "I believe that Bush's victory is based also on the favourable economic phase in the United States and on the tax cuts carried out by the administration," Berlusconi added.