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Russia To Sign Spain's Afghan Transit Deal In March

Spanish soldiers with the NATO-led force in Herat
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia will sign an agreement next month to allow Spain to use a route through its territory to Afghanistan for military cargo and personnel, an aide to President Dmitry Medvedev has been quoted as saying.

NATO members are looking for alternative supply routes from the north and Central Asia rather than routes through Pakistan, where convoys are repeatedly attacked by Taliban militants.

"An agreement on the transit via Russian territory of military property and personnel...will be signed during the president's state visit to Madrid on March 1-3," Interfax news agency quoted Kremlin aide Sergei Prikhodko as saying.

Prikhodko said Russia already has Afghan transit agreements with Germany, France, and the United States, though the deal with Washington applies only to nonmilitary cargoes.

Prikhodko said Spanish cargo would be transported by rail.

Spain has more than 700 military personnel based in Afghanistan.