Thursday, May 17, 2012 -
Rail cargo traffic between Uzbekistan and Latvia doubled in 2011, partly due to NATO’s need for supplies for the war effort in Afghanistan, an intergovernmental commission was told Wednesday.
The route is one of several that form the Northern Distribution Network (NDN), which supplies non-lethal cargo to the U.S.-led NATO coalition fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The Latvia-Uzbekistan intergovernmental commission held in Riga, the Latvian capital, looked at ways to use the transit corridors linking Europe with Afghanistan for commercial cargo. NATO plans to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan by 2014.
Latvian Transport Minister Aivis Ronis pressed the Uzbek delegation to examine the possibilities of investing in developing Latvian ports, logistics and manufacturing facilities, with a view to getting a foothold in Europe’s vast market, the Baltic Course news agency reported.
Countries hosting the NDN gained in 2011 when the United States took the decision to reply on the European-Central Asian supply routes over the one through violence-plagued Pakistan.
Washington upped the volume of cargo via the NDN from around 50 percent to 75 percent while reducing its dependency on Pakistan. Then in November 2011, Islamabad imposed a blockade on NATO supplies in response to a bungled U.S. air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.