US urges closer security ties with Russia for Olympics

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States on Monday, Dec 30, 2013, called for closer security cooperation with Russia ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics after two deadly bombings in the city of Volgograd, and warned Americans to stay vigilant.

"The US government has offered our full support to the Russian government in security preparations for the Sochi Olympic Games, and we would welcome the opportunity for closer cooperation for the safety of the athletes, spectators, and other participants," National Security Council spokesman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.

At least 14 people were killed on Monday when a suicide bomber blew himself up on a packed trolleybus in the southern Russian city during the morning rush hour. On Sunday, a similar attack at a train station claimed 17 lives.

The United States "condemns the terrorist attacks that struck the Russian city of Volgograd and sends deepest condolences to the families of the victims with hopes for the rapid healing of those wounded," Ms Hayden added.

"The United States stands in solidarity with the Russian people against terrorism," she said.

The attacks raised alarm about whether the ongoing anti-Kremlin insurgency in the Northern Caucasus could affect the Sochi Winter Games, which open on Feb 7.

The State Department warned all Americans planning to travel to Russia for the Games to remain vigilant, saying threats had already been made against the winter spectacular.

"US citizens planning to attend should remain alert, regarding their personal security at all times," said State Department deputy spokesman Marie Harf.

US diplomatic security staff have been working with Russian authorities for "many months on security" leading up to the Games, she stressed.

"Threats have been made against the Olympic Games and acts of terrorism, including bombings, continue to occur in Russia," Ms Harf said.

"This is an exciting, positive, happy international sporting event, but people going there do need to maintain vigilance and watch out for their own security and safety," she added.

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