Tajikistan allows NATO cargo transit to Afghanistan

Tajikistan has agreed to allow the transit of NATO non-military cargo through its territory to Afghanistan, a U.S. military commander said on Tajik state television on Friday. "Tajikistan has allowed (NATO) to use its railways and roads to transit non-military goods to Afghanistan," said Rear Admiral Mark Harnitchek of the U.S. Transportation Command. Washington seeks to diversify supply routes for its troops in Afghanistan as militants in Pakistan step up attacks on supply convoys. Tajikistan's Central Asian neighbor Kyrgyzstan decided on Thursday to close a U.S. military air base, removing one of the U.S. military's supply routes into Afghanistan as it prepares to send more troops. Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev signed the base closure decision into law on Friday. The country's Foreign Ministry is now expected to hand the United States an official eviction note. When that happens, Washington will have 180 days to wrap up its operations in Kyrgyzstan. "We plan to ship 50 to 200 containers a week from Uzbekistan to Tajikistan and then to Afghanistan," Harnitchek said. "Tajikistan is very important because it is closest to our bases." The United States has said earlier that cargo such as building materials, medicines and water would be delivered to Uzbekistan by rail via Russia and Kazakhstan.

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