Newscast Media MOSCOW—Moscow has a right to deny NATO transit to and from
Afghanistan in response to the alliance’s decision to suspend cooperation with Russia,
a senior Russian legislator said Friday.
“If our cooperation comes to a halt, we’ll have the right to suspend (NATO’s) transit,
and the alliance will have to find other routes,” Viktor Ozerov, head of the Defense
and Security Committee of the Federation Council, or upper house of parliament, told
Interfax news agency.
As NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) withdrawal from
Afghanistan in the end of 2014 approaches, the alliance will have to find routes
bypassing the Russian territory, Ozerov said.
Russia will lose nothing from the halt of cooperation, he said, noting that NATO has
always been working for its egoistic purposes.
“No progress was made on the key issue—missile defense. NATO continued to expand
and set up bases ignoring Russia’s position,” Ozerov noted.
Nevertheless, he said he believes NATO will revise its decision “very soon” and return
to dialogue and partnership.
“We are destined to cooperate because we live in the same space. Military activity of
one side may directly influence security of the other side. We can’t help but view
military unions of East European and Baltic states and military activity on their
territories as a threat to our strategic security,” Ozerov said.
This is not the first time that NATO has suspended cooperation with Russia. In 2008,
the bloc suspended cooperation with Moscow after a brief Russia-Georgia armed
conflict. Cooperation was resumed in 2009 at NATO’s initiative.
Russia joined the Partnership for Peace program with NATO in the early 1990s. The
two sides agreed that no excessive military presence was allowed on the territory of
Eastern European countries.
On Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow expected
NATO to explain how the bloc’s recent military build-up in Eastern Europe
corresponded with existing bilateral agreements.
Newscast Media TEHRAN—Iran says it will send forces into Pakistan to free kidnapped
border guards if Islamabad does not take measures to secure their release.
Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli was quoted as issuing the warning on
Fazli’s comments come a week after Jaish-ul Adl, a little-known Sunni Islamist Baluch
militant group, published pictures on its Facebook page it said were of the soldiers
kidnapped in Iran’s southeast province of Sistan-Baluchistan.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry reportedly summoned Pakistan’s charge d’affaires,
demanding that Islamabad “act firmly against the leaders and members of the terrorist
group who have fled into Pakistan.”
Press TV has also reported, Iran has warned that it will take matters in its own hands
and enter Afghanistan’s deep territory to establish security, if the country
doesn’t secure its borders. (pop-up)
Jaish-ul Adl militants said in November 2013 they assassinated a local Iranian
prosecutor, and in October ambushed border guards, killing 14.
Source: Radio Free Europe
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The White House said it is “imperative” that Afghan
authorities conclude a Bilateral Security Agreement with the United States before the
end of the year. White House spokesman Jay Carney told a news conference on
November 22: “The bottom line is that we need to conclude the agreement with
signatures between our two governments as soon as possible and certainly by the
end of the year.”
He said that failure to conclude the agreement by that point would make it impossible
for the United States and its allies to plan for a presence [in Afghanistan] post 2014.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai told a session of the Loya Jirga, or Grand Council, on
November 21 that the Bilateral Security Agreement might have to wait to be signed
until after Afghanistan’s presidential elections in April 2014.
But Carney said the U.S. had made an honest offer and emphasized that Washington
would not be revising the deal. He said, “It is our final offer.”
The Bilateral Security Agreement could clear the way for the United States to keep
thousands of troops in Afghanistan after NATO-led forces withdraw at the end of
U.S. officials responded to Karzai’s comments, saying the deal must be finalized before
the start of 2014. Karzai’s spokesman, Aimal Faizi, said on November 22 that
Afghanistan does not recognize U.S. “deadlines.”
Afghan authorities and delegates to the Loya Jirga have voiced concern about parts
of the agreement.
Most recently, the question of U.S. forces entering the homes of Afghan citizens has
held up the deal, but there are reportedly other unresolved issues in the agreement
the Loya Jirga is still considering.
Source: Radio Liberty