Upon arrival in New York City from Texas, Mr Putin went from the airport to southern Manhattan, where the World Trade Centre once stood.
Mr Putin was the first head of state to make a telephone call to US President George W. Bush after the appalling terrorist attack of September 11, and express solidarity with the American people.
From a Liberty Street view point, Mr Putin saw the site of the collapsed Twin Towers as debris clearing went on round the clock. Mayor Rudolf Giuliani acted as the Russian President’s guide. Mr Putin went next to the Memorial Wall, which bore the flags and names of countries whose citizens perished in the terrorist attack of 9/11. The Russian flag was among them. Mr Putin laid a wreath of red, blue and white flowers—the colours of the Russian and US flags—and wrote on the wall: “I bow to the victims’ memory, and admire New Yorkers’ courage. The great city and the great American nation will win!!! Vladimir Putin, November 15, 2001.”
Before leaving the site of the tragedy, Mr Putin approached a group of people who displayed exceptional valour on September 11—fire-fighters, rescuers and policemen. The first whom he talked to was Yury Kirilchenko, a New York correspondent of the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS. The terrorist attack found him on duty in the World Trade Centre. He continued to rescue other survivors until he collapsed with a heart attack, and had to undergo emergency surgery. Mr Putin wished the hero journalist health and success.
As Mr Giuliani said to the media, the tragedy of September 11 promoted US-Russian solidarity. The scope of destruction shocked President Putin. The Mayor also said that Russian nationals and Americans of Russian origin were among the victims of the terrorist attack.