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US to expand supply routes for troops in Afghanistan

world Updated: Dec 31, 2008 12:35 IST

US and NATO forces are planning to open and expand supply lines through Central Asia to deliver fuel, food and other goods to a military mission in Afghanistan, expected to grow by tens of thousands of troops in the months ahead.

The militants have shown that they can threaten shipments through the pass into Afghanistan, burning cargo trucks and Humvees over recent weeks, a media report said today, adding that more than 80 per cent of the supplies for American and allied forces in Afghanistan now flow through Pakistan.

The demands made on supply routes are expected to increase greatly as heavy materials are moved to Afghanistan to build the structures needed for an expanded American presence, New York Times reported citing American and alliance diplomats and military officials.

But the newspaper said the new supply arrangements could leave US more reliant on cooperation from authoritarian countries like Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, which have poor records on democracy and human rights.

The officials were quoted as saying that delicate negotiations were under way not only with the Central Asian states bordering Afghanistan but also with Russia, to work out the details of new supply routes.

The talks show the continued importance of American and NATO cooperation with the Kremlin, despite lingering tension over the war between Russia and Georgia in August, the paper said.

American officials told the paper that they were trying to allay Central Asian concerns by promising that the supplies would be hauled only by commercial shipping companies and would not include weapons or munitions. No additional American bases will be required on their territory, they said.