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UK to bring Afghan equipment home via Uzbekistan

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Britain's Defence Secretary Philip Hammond. — File Photo by AFP

LONDON: Britain's Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said the UK has struck a deal with Uzbekistan to help bring back 4 billion pounds ($6.2 billion) of equipment from Afghanistan as operations drawn down.          

Britain's government has said UK troop numbers in Afghanistan will fall from around 9,000 currently to about 5,200 by the end of 2013.

Hammond told lawmakers Wednesday that the UK has struck a deal with Uzbekistan because the only current transit route for equipment _ through Pakistan _ ''would be hard pressed to meet the capacity demands'' of the drawdown, which for Britain involves bringing home about 2,500 vehicles and 6,500 storage containers.

Under the arrangement, some 450,000 pounds ($699,700) of surplus equipment _ Land Rover spare parts and Leyland DAF trucks _ will be ''gifted'' to Uzbekistan.

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