Uzbeks, Turkmens agree to NATO Afghan transit

Wed Feb 25, 2009 6:26am EST

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ALMATY Feb 25 (Reuters) - Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have both agreed to allow NATO non-military cargo to transit through their territories en route to Afghanistan, Russia's Interfax news agency reported on Wednesday.

Washington, facing the closure of a key military air base in Kyrgyzstan, is looking for ways to diversify supply routes for U.S. and NATO troops fighting in Afghanistan.

"Uzbekistan has given permission to allow the transit of non-military cargo to Afghanistan...," Uzbek President Islam Karimov was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

Turkmen leader Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, in Uzbekistan on a visit, was quoted as saying his country had also agreed to allow supplies to pass through its territory.

"We have nothing against allowing humanitarian cargo to use our air space," he was quoted as saying by Interfax.

Both nations share borders with Afghanistan and have in the past indicated they sought to step up cooperation with NATO over Afghanistan. Russia has also previously agreed to allow NATO-led forces to send non-lethal cargo through its land.

Last week, Kyrgyzstan gave Washington six months to close its military air base on its territory, complicating U.S. plans to boost the number of its troops fighting in Afghanistan. (Writing by Maria Golovnina; Editing by Giles Elgood)



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