US, Uzbekistan reach transit deal to supply Afghanistan forces

April 4th, 2009 - 8:20 am ICT by IANS  

Taliban Washington, April 4 (DPA) Uzbekistan has agreed to allow US non-military supplies to pass through its territory to reach neighbouring Afghanistan, US officials said Friday in a deal that could aid the US military in its fight against a growing insurgency in the region.
Goods covered by the agreement include food, medical supplies and building materials, State Department spokesman Robert Wood said. It follows similar agreements with other countries to the west of Afghanistan, including Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

The US military is hoping to expand its use of supply routes into western Afghanistan as convoys coming from Pakistan in the south have come under increasing attack from insurgents.

“Obviously, the United States and Uzbekistan have interests in trying to prevent the Taliban and Al Qaeda from becoming more powerful in Afghanistan,” Wood said.

The deal comes as Kazakhstan has said it will close a US military air base that serves as a vital hub for US forces, though Pentagon officials are holding out hope that the government’s decision could still be reversed.

US President Barack Obama is sending an additional 21,000 troops to Afghanistan as part of a new strategy to quell the violence and dismantle Al Qaeda terrorist camps.

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