Centcom reaches agreement with Russia, CARs over Afghan supply route


Islamabad : Commander of American Forces in Afghanistan and Iraq General David Petraeus said on Tuesday that the U.S. has reached agreements with Russia and Central Asian states over alternate supplies route for American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

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The American commander arrived in Pakistan after visiting the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, where, he said, his talks had focused on reaching agreements on new routes for transporting supplies to U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Observers said the U.S. has been looking for alternate supply routes to Afghanistan following a surge in attacks on American and NATO convoys in Pakistan’s Khyber tribal region.

The transportation of supplies through the Khyber Agency was suspended several times in the past few months following attacks on convoys by the Pakistani Taliban.

Petraeus, however, told reporters in Islamabad that the U.S. needed multiple supply routes into north Afghanistan due to a proposed increase in activities and an upcoming troop surge.

The U.S. military said in December that it would send up to 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, where about 70,000 international troops are fighting alongside Afghan security forces.

Besides President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Petraeus also met with the army chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. The army chief was also present during Petraeus’ meeting with Zardari. A statement issued by the presidency said Zardari and Petraeus discussed regional security matters. It did not give more details.

Petraeus said he also discussed coordination and cooperation between U.S. forces in Afghanistan and the Pakistani military.

Troops in Pakistan and Afghanistan have to take “coordinated actions” as militants move back and forth across the border and cause problems in both countries, he said.

General Patraeus, who arrived here Tuesday on a one-day visit, said he discussed the measures taken by Pakistan in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, including arrests made by Pakistani authorities, during his meetings with President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani.

“We discussed the actions that Pakistan has taken in following up the investigation and the recent arrests (made) in the wake of the Mumbai attacks and the steps they have taken to deal with that situation,” he said.

“It is clearly in the interest of all countries involved that Pakistan succeeds in dealing with its internal problems,” he added.

Petraeus, making his second visit to Islamabad since he was appointed chief of the U.S. Central Command in November last year, also discussed ways in which America and the international community could increase assistance for Pakistan’s fight against extremists and militants in the tribal areas, the North West Frontier Province and in other areas.

Such assistance, he said, is necessary as Pakistan’s democratic government “gets established and undertakes the difficult decisions that it has recently reached to be in compliance” with a bailout package from the International Monetary Fund.