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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

NATO, Russia Agree to Boost Afghan Ties

BRUSSELS — NATO's top officer said Wednesday that Russia had agreed to boost cooperation with the alliance in Afghanistan, including opening more transit routes for supplies to international troops and helping service Soviet-built helicopters used by the security forces.

Italian Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, who heads the alliance's military committee, said Russia's chief of staff, General Nikolai Makarov, had told his allied counterparts that Moscow was extremely interested in helping the war effort in Afghanistan.

"He said Russia had an even greater interest than the alliance in a successful outcome there," Di Paola told reporters.

Tuesday's meeting of the military chiefs of NATO's 28 countries with Makarov marked the resumption of military-to-military ties between the alliance and Russia, which were frozen in the aftermath of the war with Georgia in 2008.

Agreements included giving NATO access to more supply corridors and Russian help in maintaining the transport and gunship helicopters in use by allied and Afghan forces. These accords will be reviewed at a follow-up meeting with Makarov, Di Paola said.

NATO also confirmed that it had finalized an agreement with Kazakhstan to open the last leg on the overland route to Afghanistan from Europe via Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. It will offer an alternative to the alliance's main logistics chain through Pakistan, which has come under repeated militant attack in the past.

Meanwhile, Russia's NATO envoy, Dmitry Rogozin, has offered to help rebuild Afghanistan — as long as the West provides the money.

Russia could restore more than 140 buildings erected by Soviet engineers in Afghanistan between 1952 and 1988, Rogozin said in an interview published Wednesday in Kommersant.

Rogozin said Soviet-built power plants, highways, electricity lines and oil pipeline networks could be among the infrastructure to be refurbished by Russian engineers.

He called on officials to resist putting the repair contracts out to bid.

"The financing of these projects is an issue for the world community," Rogozin said. "Which country and how much to give — these are questions for our Western partners."

Countries that don't have soldiers in Afghanistan but are rich enough to allocate money to Russian contractors should pony up the funds, he said.

A global conference on Afghanistan starts Thursday in London, and Kommersant reported that Russia would attempt to hammer out contracts during the conference.

Referring to holding tenders for the repair work, Rogozin said these "half-corrupt schemes of international competition" were "inappropriate."

"Our engineers constructed these buildings — they should restore them," he said.