The United States does not intend to change the terms of its contract or cancel agreements with Russia on the delivery and maintenance of helicopters for Afghanistan’s armed forces, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said on Monday.
At Monday’s press briefing, journalists asked Toner to comment on letters human rights organizations sent to Congress and the U.S. Department of the Treasury demanding that deals allegedly worth $1 billion with Russia be canceled because Russia supplies arms to Syria.
“I’m not sure what you’re referring to. The only thing you might be referring to is we do have a limited contract with Russia to provide helicopter parts, I think, for some helicopters that are - that have been loaned to the Afghan - or sold or given to the Afghan military. That, I think, is the extent,” Toner said.
“We don’t want to see any country providing Assad with the wherewithal to continue his assault on his own citizens,” he also said.
Earlier the U.S. administration said it respected Russian-Syrian contracts as the two countries had a long experience of military and technological cooperation.
Russia supplies Syria with a variety of weapons including anti-ship and air-defense missiles, armored vehicles and aircraft. Russia earlier said that it sold arms to Syria in accordance with existing contracts but that these deliveries were not in contravention of any international agreements.
More than 9,000 people have been killed in Syria since the outbreak of the popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in March, 2011, the UN said.
Moscow has twice vetoed UN Security Council resolutions over what it called a pro-rebel bias since the start of the uprising against Assad, but has given its full backing to UN special envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan.
In 2011, Russia and the United States signed a $368-million contract to supply 21 Mil Mi-17B5 Hip military-transport helicopters to Afghanistan. The delivery is to be completed by July this year. The contract also envisioned delivery of spare parts and maintenance.