To help maintain security in Afghanistan, the United States has held discussions with Central Asian countries to allow transit flights of American military, reconnaissance and other aircraft through their airspace, said Gen. Stephen Lyons, commander of the U.S. Transportation Command.
According to Gen. Lyons, it is a new initiative led by the U.S. Department of State aimed at supplementing the Northern Distribution Network (NDN), which consists of logistical routes to send supplies to NATO forces in Afghanistan.
NDN passes through several former Soviet countries, including all five Central Asian states: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The Pentagon has used NDN since 2009 to deliver nonmilitary cargo to U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
The U.S. desires better relations with Central Asia regardless of the outcome of peace talks in Afghanistan, said R. Clarke Cooper, U.S. assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs.
One goal is to lessen these countries’ reliance on Russia, a holdover from their days as republics of the Soviet Union.
Cooper expressed a desire that Central Asian states develop capacities and capabilities to increase interoperability with the U.S.
Sources: Ritm Evrazii, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Military Times