Russia to allow U.S. military flights

MOSCOW, July 3 (UPI) -- Russian leaders have agreed to allow U.S. military planes carrying troops and equipment to use their country's airspace, officials said Friday.

Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of parliament, told The New York Times military operations in Afghanistan help protect the southern border of Russia.


"Afghanistan is one of the areas where we must cooperate," he said.

Russia has allowed the United States to ship only non-lethal supplies and aid through its territory by train. The change in policy is to be announced officially Monday or Tuesday during President Obama's first official visit to Russia.

The Taliban surge in Pakistan has made supplying U.S. and other NATO forces in Afghanistan by truck difficult. Uzbekistan ended U.S. use of a base several years ago, while Kyrgyzstan, after threatening to evict the U.S. military, changed its mind after payments were increased.

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