DATE=9/9/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=PUTIN/KURSK (L ONLY) NUMBER=2-266301 BYLINE=VICTOR BEATTIE DATELINE=WASHINGTON INTERNET=YES CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledges he made a mistake last month by failing to rush back to the Kremlin from his southern vacation to deal with the "Kursk" nuclear submarine disaster. However, as V-O-A's Victor Beattie reports, Mr. Putin told a U-S television interviewer he was in constant contact with Russian military officials during the crisis. TEXT: In an appearance on the C-N-N program "Larry King Live," President Putin - when asked if there was anything he would have done differently to deal with the crisis in the Barents Sea initially said "No." Then, speaking through an interpreter, he added this: /// PUTIN ACT /// The only thing which could have been changed in conduct as head of state, it could be possible to halt my working meetings, to suspend them at the place of my vacation in Sochi, the Black Sea, I could go back to the capital, to Moscow. But, again, it would have been a P-R (public relations) activity since in any city of the country, or all over the world, I'm always linked to the military, I have communications means, I can discuss any problems on the table. /// END ACT /// Mr. Putin says the cause of the Kursk disaster remains unclear, but he suggests a foreign vessel collided with the submarine. He insists an immediate acceptance of foreign help was unnecessary since the crew perished shortly after the disaster. U-S and British experts have flatly rejected suggestions that the Kursk was involved in a collision, although U-S officials have acknowledged there were American submarines in the vicinity. Mr. Putin also promised to look at the case of U-S businessman Edmund Pope after a Russian court makes its verdict on the espionage charges against him. (SIGNED). NEB/VB/PFH 09-Sep-2000 06:21 AM EDT (09-Sep-2000 1021 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .