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Russia, NATO Prepare New Afghanistan Transit Deal Media

RIA Novosti

07:24 03/02/2012 MOSCOW, February 3 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and NATO may soon sign an agreement that would ease cargo transportation from Afghanistan via Russia’s territory, the Kommersant daily reported on Friday.

Moscow is in talks with NATO on the so-called “multimodal” cargo transit from Afghanistan, which would “increase the efficiency of NATO withdrawal… by using various transportation means within the same route,” an unidentified high-ranking diplomat told the paper.

Another diplomatic source said the talks on the agreement were in their final stage, adding that the deal may be signed in the very near future.

In line with the new scheme, cargos from Afghanistan would be delivered to the Russian Volga city of Ulyanovsk by plane, and then transferred to Europe by train.

“This would save the West much time and money,” another unidentified diplomat told Kommersant. “Planes will fly shorter distances, which means they will not require refueling on the way.”

All NATO combat troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014, when Afghan soldiers and police are expected to have taken over full responsibility for security in the country.

Russia has supported international efforts in the war-ravaged South Asian country by providing its territory for land and air transit of Afghanistan-bound cargos.

Last year, Moscow had also agreed to allow NATO cargos to cross Russia’s territory in the opposite direction, easing the alliance’s withdrawal.

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