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Russia ready to allow NATO transits to Afghanistan - envoy


BRUSSELS, January 27 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is ready to discuss the transit of non-lethal supplies for NATO troops in Afghanistan at any time, but the alliance needs to resolve the issue with other transit states, Russia's NATO envoy said on Tuesday.

"We are ready to discuss the details of the transits even tomorrow, but the problem is that NATO's international secretariat has not yet coordinated these details with other transit countries," Dmitry Rogozin said.

Due to deteriorating transit security in Pakistan, NATO is seeking alternative routes through Russia to supply the 62,000 Western troops currently in Afghanistan and the 30,000 additional U.S. reinforcements.

However, Russia does not share a border with Afghanistan, and NATO needs to negotiate with several Central Asian states to secure transit rights to Afghanistan's northern border.

Several NATO nations, including France, Germany and Canada, already use Russia to bring non-lethal supplies to their contingents in Afghanistan, and the U.S. could soon join them after finally striking a deal with Moscow last week.

Relations between NATO and Russia sunk to their lowest point since the end of the Cold War after Moscow and Tbilisi fought a brief military conflict over Georgia's breakaway republic of South Ossetia.

Two weeks after the end of hostilities Russia recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another breakaway province, as independent states. NATO called Russia's military response to Georgia's attack on South Ossetia "disproportionate" and condemned Moscow's decision to recognize the former Georgian republics.

In response to NATO's decision to halt cooperation, Russia put on hold a number of programs, including the Partnership for Peace program, a high-ranking visit to Moscow, some joint naval training and NATO visits to Russian ports.

However, Russia continued its work with NATO on arms control, cooperation in airspace, and the war in Afghanistan.

Rogozin also said on Tuesday that Russia would not send its troops to Afghanistan to fight against Taliban militants, but would help the war effort in the country by sending its own non-lethal supplies to support the NATO-led coalition forces.

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