U.S. Envoy Discusses Afghan Supply Route

A senior U.S. diplomat was to start talks with Russian officials on Tuesday about opening up nonmilitary supply routes across Russian territory to NATO forces in Afghanistan, the U.S. Embassy said.

"The deputy assistant secretary of state, Patrick Moon, who is responsible for Afghanistan, is in Moscow, and he is going to be engaged in discussions with Russian officials on NATO-Russia transit arrangements," a U.S. Embassy spokesman said.

Moon's talks will continue Wednesday and will also touch on other issues where the United States is seeking to enlist greater international assistance to support the Afghan government against a resurgent Taliban. "The provision of military and other assistance to the Afghans, counternarcotics and counterterrorism will also be discussed," the embassy spokesman said.

The talks come after Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev said Feb. 3 that his country would close a U.S. air base that provides logistical support to U.S. troops fighting the Taliban. He spoke hours after securing $2 billion in Russian aid. Kyrgyzstan's parliament decided Monday to delay a vote on expelling the U.S. troops until it receives the first $450 million in aid and loans promised by Russia.

(Reuters, AP)