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NATO urges Russian help in Afghan war

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NATO’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has demanded more Russian help in overcoming the common security threats in Afghanistan.

Rasmussen’s visit to Moscow is the first by the NATO chief since between the Western military alliance and Moscow soured on the heels of the August 2008 military conflict between Russia and Georgia.

The NATO chief asked Moscow to provide the alliance in Afghanistan with helicopters and training.

“I think Russia could contribute in a very concrete way by providing helicopters, helicopter training and spare parts,” he told reporters in the Kremlin after talks with President Dmitry Medvedev.

Rasmussen said he had presented the Russian leaders with a list of “concrete proposals” on helping NATO in Afghanistan which also involved training the Afghan police and fighting drug trafficking.

In a morning meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Rasmussen said, “Disagreements should not overshadow the fact that, basically, we share security interests in many areas because we are faced with the same threats.”

He noted that his first trip to Moscow was meant “to build a true partnership between NATO and Russia.”

Until now Russia has allowed the alliance to use its rail system to transport non-lethal cargoes.

“Russia has offered land transit for non-lethal supplies going into Afghanistan, we certainly wish to discuss the full range of cooperation and that may include, at a certain stage, broadening the transit arrangement as well, for example, to include transit by air,” said NATO spokesman James Appathurai.

However, Russia’s Kommersant daily, citing an unidentified diplomat, said on Wednesday that NATO looks to supplying lethal cargoes by railroad across Russia to Afghanistan, an issue already echoed by the NATO officials.

During his three-day visit, Rasmussen will also visit Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

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