With the United States and its allies preparing for the 2014 withdrawal from Afghanistan, a top British defense official who recently visited the region believes that British forces are close to securing overland transit routes via Central Asian states to extract military equipment.
A central element of the British military plan is to gain access to the US-developed Northern Distribution Network (NDN), which now operates as a route for non-lethal goods entering and leaving Afghanistan. Although no formal agreements were signed when the British delegation was in the region, UK Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey told EurasiaNet.org that he is confident that Britain can acquire “broadly equivalent facilities to those which the Americans already have.” Harvey led the British team on visits to Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. British Defense Minister Philip Hammond handled talks in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
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Deirdre Tynan is a Bishkek-based reporter specializing in Central Asian affairs.