KABUL (Pajhwok): The United States is close to a formal agreement for use of its airspace to carry out military and intelligence operations in Afghanistan, reports a leading American news network.
CNN quoted sources privy to the details of Friday’s classified briefing with Congress members as saying Pakistan had signaled its interest in inking a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the US.
In return, Islamabad seeks assistance with its own counterterrorism efforts and help in putting on its relationship with New Delhi back on track.
With the negotiations still ongoing, the terms of the agreement, which is yet to been finalised, could still change, one source told the influential media outlet.
As part of intelligence-gathering efforts, the US military presently uses Pakistan’s airspace to reach Afghanistan. However, a formal deal has to be signed to ensure continued access to a critical piece of airspace.
The proposed agreement was discussed when US officials visited Pakistan, whose demands remain unknown. The risk of US military aircraft and drones en route to Afghanistan being denied entry could not be ruled out.
Concurrently, the US is also looking at Uzbekistan and Tajikistan as key options for possible locations to establish an American military presence to conduct over-the-horizon operations in Afghanistan.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin and some local politicians are expected to oppose the proposition. “Both are long shots,” one source remarked, describing them as “likely pipe dreams.
An unnamed defence official told CNN: “The US maintains ongoing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities as needed to support the over-the-horizon and counter-terrorism mission requirements.”
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