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Russia Could Provide Air Base To U.S.-Led Coalition

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the Russian government will discuss a proposal that for the first time would permit the U.S.-led coalition to use a Russian air base to transit troops and military cargo from Afghanistan.

Speaking on March 14 in the State Duma, Lavrov threw his personal support behind the proposal to allow the International Security Assistance Force to use the Ulyanovsk air base on the Volga River, saying it would be in Russia's national interest and could benefit Russian security.

The proposed deal would for the first time allow the U.S.-led coalition to set up a logistics facility for troops and cargo transport on Russian territory.

Moscow earlier agreed to provide the United States and NATO member states with air corridors and railway routes for carrying supplies to and from Afghanistan.

The closure by Islamabad of overland NATO cargo routes through Pakistan has complicated plans to withdraw foreign combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

As a result, Washington and its allies are seeking alternative ways to pull troops and equipment out of Afghanistan.

With AP, Interfax, and ITAR-TASS reporting

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