Russia's borders now open for Afghanistan-bound supplies
April 5, 2008
The movement of supplies such as food and spare parts will now be permitted to travel through Russia on its way to military posts in Afghanistan, according to an agreement reached on the final day of the NATO summit in Romania.
The Bucharest summit, the largest in NATO history, concluded Friday with a meeting of members of the NATO-Russian Council. The transit accord will be signed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavro.
“That means now non-lethal military goods can be transported through Russian territory,” NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said on Friday.
One day earlier, Afghan President Hamid Karzai expressed hope that such an agreement would be reached. “It is important, and if there is an agreement already on the transport of NATO supplies to Afghanistan through the Russian territory we are thankful for that for Russia,” Karzai said.
Friday’s meeting, attended by President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin, failed to make much headway on other areas of disagreement, such as NATO enlargement and an independent Kosovo.
“[I] can’t report a stunning breakthrough in this regard,” de Hoop Scheffer said.
However, the tone during the NATO meeting, the last for Bush and Putin, was positive, he said.
Bush and Putin will continue their talks this weekend in Sochi, the Russian Black Sea resort where issues such as missile defense are expected to be up for discussion.
Next year’s NATO summit will be hosted together by Germany and France in the cities of Kehl and Strasbourg.