Tajikistan, UK sign transit agreement for recovery of UK equipment from Afghanistan

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Thursday, April 18, 2013
Kabul (BNA) Tajikistan and the United Kingdom have signed an agreement enabling the recovery of British equipment from Afghanistan.
Tajik Foreign Minister, Mr. Hamrokhon Zarifi, and British Ambassador to Tajikistan, Mr. Robin Jeremy Ord-Smith, signed a government-to-government agreement concerning the procedure for transit military equipment and personnel through the territory of Tajikistan in connection with the participation of the United Kingdom efforts to ensure the security, stabilization and reconstruction of Afghanistan in Dushanbe on April 18.
This document provides for the recovery of not only military property, but also office equipment from Afghanistan, Ambassador Ord-Smith told journalists following the agreement-signing ceremony.
“As far as the withdrawal of military personnel through Tajikistan is concerned, we have decided that they will be withdrawn by air, because surface transit requires significant expenditures.  But in case of emergency, we have the right to make landing at Tajik airports,” Britain’s diplomat noted.
The United Kingdom is to move 11,000 containers of property and 3,000 armored vehicles from Afghanistan and it has considered several transit routes for the recovery of its property from Afghanistan.
Three reverse transit agreements have been concluded with Uzbekistan, enabling the recovery of non-war like stores and, separately, motorized armored vehicles, by rail; and equipment (including war-like stores and ammunition) and personnel by air.
The United Kingdom is ready to provide Central Asia’s countries that will provide corridor for the recovery of the British property from Afghanistan with some of its equipment.
Earlier, Ambassador Ord-Smith told Asia-Plus that the issue of handover of a part of equipment to Tajikistan will be discussed at a meeting of senior representatives of the defense offices of the two countries that is expected to take place in late April.
We will recall that the for the first time the issue of using Tajik territory for withdrawal of British military equipment via Tajikistan was discussed during a visit of Britain’s Minister of State for the Armed Forces, Nick Harvey, to Tajikistan in March 2012.  He was reportedly in Tajikistan to discuss with Tajik leaders possible transit routes for the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan in 2014.
Harvey told journalists in Dushanbe after talks on March 2 that a proposed route for the troops' withdrawal would go through Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, and therefore the cooperation between the three Central Asian countries is needed.  According to him, members of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) could leave behind some of their equipment in Afghanistan and possibly in the three Central Asian countries.
International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) combat operations are due to be completed by the end of 2014.  UK troop numbers in Afghanistan, currently at around 9,000, are due to fall to about 5,200 by the end of 2013 with further significant reductions planned for 2014.

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