NATO, Russia agree land transit for Afghanistan

Other News Materials 4 April 2008 16:06 (UTC +04:00)

(Reuters) - Russia agreed on Friday to allow NATO to use Russian land to deliver non-lethal supplies to alliance troops in Afghanistan, but not troops or air transit arrangements as initially sought by NATO.

The deal was showcased at a summit between alliance leaders and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Bucharest as evidence of cooperation between the former Cold War foes, even though it fell short of NATO hopes.

"It's been done. It will cover land transit of non-lethal equipment. Air transit is not for today," a NATO spokeswoman said.

Letters implementing the agreement were exchanged by NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and Russian Foreign Ministers Sergei Lavrov, a Kremlin spokesman said.

The NATO spokeswoman said non-lethal supplies covered everything from food to certain military equipment. She did not say why troops or air transit would not be covered.

De Hoop Scheffer said last month he was hopeful of increased cooperation with Russia and an alliance spokesman said then that negotiations were taking place on land and air corridors for troops and equipment, plus the possibility of boosting existing cooperation on training local counter-narcotics officials.

Moscow has been irked by the alliance's eastward expansion and Friday's summit followed a promise by NATO leaders on Thursday to former Soviet republics Ukraine and Georgia that they will one day join the Western defense pact.