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Russia Allows Passage Of U.S. Supplies For Afghanistan

The Taliban has attacked overland supply routes through Pakistan.

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia has allowed a supply cargo for U.S. forces in Afghanistan to pass through its territory by train, a sign of Moscow's growing cooperation with Washington on the issue.

The cargo had entered Russia from NATO member Latvia and crossed the country en route to Afghanistan, a spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Moscow said. Russia's foreign ministry later confirmed the cargo had crossed into Kazakhstan.

NATO is looking for alternative supply routes for its troops fighting the Taliban other than through Pakistan, where Western military convoys are repeatedly attacked by Taliban militants.

"It is non-lethal goods, like construction equipment for example," the embassy spokesman said, adding:

"I believe it crossed into Russia on Friday."

The Kremlin said Afghanistan was an area where it was willing to cooperate with the administration of President Barack Obama, who is sending more troops to fight in Afghanistan.

"The cargo of American non-military goods for Afghanistan yesterday left the territory of Russia and should be in Kazakhstan," a Russian foreign ministry spokesman told Interfax news agency.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said this month he saw the threat from radical groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan and was ready to work more closely with the United States on supply routes.

But Russia has sent conflicting signals over how far it is prepared to go to help the United States in Afghanistan and Moscow has made no secret of its opposition to U.S. influence in the former Soviet Union.

In Kyrgyzstan, an ex-Soviet ally of Moscow's announced last month, after accepting a big Russian aid package that it was closing the last U.S. air base in Central Asia, a key staging post for the war in Afghanistan. The Kremlin denied any connection between the aid and the base closure.