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Russia may offer aircraft for Afghan transit

MOSCOW: Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Russia was considering to offer military aircraft to help supply NATO soldiers in Afghanistan, in an overture to a new US administration. The Kremlin has said that it was looking for a fresh start in relations under new US President Barack Hussain Obama and would be seeking concessions from him over missile defence plans which the Kremlin thought a threat to its security.

When asked about ways to improve ties with the United States, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia was ready for close cooperation on Afghanistan. The United States wanted Russia to provide it with transit routes to re-supply NATO-led forces fighting Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, particularly after militants attacked truck convoys on a supply route through Pakistan.

”Non-military transit has already been granted as part of our agreements with NATO and the United States very recently received our agreement for delivery of their cargoes for the needs of the international forces and additional steps are also possible,”

Lavrov said.

US Vice President Joe Biden, in a speech at a security conference in Munich this month, said it was time ”to press the reset button” on relations with Moscow. His comments were welcomed by Russian officials. ”Vice President Biden spoke about this in Munich as a process which would help normalize our relations and take them to the level of a constructive partnership,” Lavrov said.

”There are many problems in the world which we need to resolve together, there are too many threats that are common for both Russia and the United States and Europe and other states.” The Kremlin has identified Afghanistan as an area where it has common interests with Washington. Russians still have fresh memories of the failed Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and see the Taliban as a threat to their security.-SANA

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Noreen Gill

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