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U.S. to transit non-military cargo to Afghanistan via Russia

RIA Novosti

13/02/2009 20:39 MOSCOW, February 13 (RIA Novosti) - The United States will transit a consignment of non-military supplies to Afghanistan via Russian territory in the next few days, the Russian foreign minister said on Friday.

The announcement comes a little more than a week after Washington requested Moscow's permission to send several containers of non-military cargoes to Afghanistan via Russia.

"We confirmed without delay that we are ready to do this since it is fully in accordance with the agreement that was previously reached with NATO, and this transit will go ahead within the next few days," Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with the TVC Channel.

Russia and NATO signed a framework agreement on the transit of non-military cargos in April 2008.

Moscow said last Friday it would allow the transit of non-military supplies for U.S. troops in Afghanistan as soon as Washington provided Moscow with cargo specifications.

Several NATO nations, including France, Germany and Canada, already transport so-called non-lethal supplies to their contingents in Afghanistan via Russia under bilateral agreements.

Due to worsening security on the main land route from Pakistan and the expected closure of a U.S. airbase in Kyrgyzstan, NATO is seeking alternative routes to supply the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.

There are 62,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, and new U.S. President Barrack Obama has pledged to deploy another 30,000 U.S. military personnel to the war-ravaged country.

Despite the recent deterioration in relations with NATO, Russia has continued to support the military alliance's operations in Afghanistan.

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