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Uzbek-Tajik Dispute Disrupts NATO Supplies To Afghanistan

DUSHANBE -- The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan says it "may have to reroute some shipments" that are stranded in Central Asia after Uzbekistan suspended rail traffic to Tajikistan's southern Khatlon district.

ISAF spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Goetz Hasske told Reuters that "some carriages carrying NATO supplies were being held up," citing "ongoing political tensions in the area."

NATO ships nonlethal military cargo, such as fuel and food, to support its military operations against the Taliban through Central Asia on its way to Afghanistan.

The deputy head of Tajikistan's state railway company, Usmon Kalandarov, says 2,500 carriages bound for Tajikistan were being held on Uzbek territory as of May 24. He said more than 300 of those carriages contained NATO cargo bound for Afghanistan.

Tajikistan has accused Uzbekistan of deliberately blocking shipments, but Tashkent said the delays have been "technical."

Relations between the two neighbors deteriorated over Tajik plans to complete the construction of a hydroelectric power plant in Roghun. Tashkent objected to that project, claiming it would exacerbate existing water shortages in the region.

compiled from agency reports