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U-N Aid Shipments from Uzbekistan to Afghanistan Could Begin This Week - 2001-11-11


The United Nations says it expects the Uzbekistan government to allow it to begin shipping humanitarian aid into northern Afghanistan within days.

U-N officials say the first shipments could be sent by barge across the Amu Darya River as early as Wednesday.

Uzbekistan and U-N officials agreed last month on the need for aid shipments into northern Afghanistan, where opposition forces backed by U-S troops are waging war against the terrorist al-Qaida network and its allied Taleban government.

If the initial barge shipment is successful, U-N officials say they plan to ship thousands of tons of aid earmarked for Afghan children every month. The United Nations says it hopes the Uzbek government will eventually open a bridge into Afghanistan so truck convoys can begin shipping aid south. The bridge was closed in 1997 after the Taleban seized control in Afghanistan.

U-N authorities had been negotiating with Afghanistan's ruling Taleban for permission to distribute aid to northern parts of the country, including the city of Mazar-e-Sharif. But Friday, the anti-Taleban opposition drove Taleban forces from that northern city.

The Uzbek government has also allowed U-S forces to use Uzbek airbases for humanitarian and search-and-rescue missions into Afghanistan.

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