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Britain May Withdraw Troops from Afghanistan via Tajikistan

RIA Novosti

13:22 02/03/2012 DUSHANBE, March 2 (RIA Novosti) - Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon and UK Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey discussed on Friday the impending withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan, planned for completion by 2014.

Harvey said they discussed using land in Tajikistan as a staging area for British troops and military stores withdrawn from Afghanistan.

Britain is seeking overflight and land transit accords with Central Asian states to allow the shipment of military supplies in and out of Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan's defense ministry said on Friday.

Harvey also discussed the agreements with Kyrgyz officials during his visit to the former Soviet republic.

"[They] discussed the possible expansion of the northern route for Britain for the purposes of shipping military equipment to and from Afghanistan, primarily through Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan," the ministry said.

Pakistan blocked a key transit route for military supplies in Afghanistan in November last year after 24 Pakistani border troops were killed in a botched U.S. operation.

UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has already signed an overflight transit agreement with Kazakhstan, Britain's Defense Ministry said. Hammon and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev also began negotiating on an agreeement allowing military supplies to be transported overland.

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