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Russia Says It Can Work With U.S. On Afghan Cargo

Andrei Nesterenko

Andrei Nesterenko

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia is ready for possible cooperation with the United States on the transit of military equipment across its territory to Afghanistan, Russia's Foreign Ministry.

The United States is seeking more supply routes for international forces fighting in Afghanistan after militants in Pakistan stepped up attacks on supply convoys from the south.

"We are being asked whether Russia intends to make an agreement with the United States on the transit across her territory of military equipment to Afghanistan," Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko told a news briefing.

"Russia is ready for cooperation on this question," he said, adding that Washington has not yet made an official request to send military cargo across Russian territory.

The first cargo of U.S. nonlethal supplies such as construction materials crossed Russia last month but officials say the United States is interested in sending military equipment too.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev agreed this week at their first meeting to work on finding new ways to cooperate on Afghanistan as part of a wider thaw in relations.

Obama has said the United States is not winning in Afghanistan, where violence is at is highest since U.S.-led forces ousted the militant Islamist Taliban movement in late 2001.

Russia has already made agreements with NATO members Germany, France, and Spain to transit military cargo and personnel for Afghanistan through its territory.

But full cooperation between Russia and NATO is complicated by Moscow's opposition to NATO expansion and U.S. plans for a missile system in Europe.