NEWS BRIEFS

NATO granted permission to use Slovak railways

The Slovak Cabinet has given permission to NATO to use Slovak railways for transfers of NATO military equipment and troops to military operations in Yugoslavia, Deputy Prime Minister Pavol Hamžík said April 21.

The approval came five days after NATO requested access to the railways to support their expanding military effort in Yugoslavia. Slovakia has already granted NATO flights unlimited access to its airspace and has also approved a simplified procedure for granting consent for individual flights.

NATO requested permission to use the rails from the Slovak Foreign Affairs Ministry on April 16. Slovak Rail (ŽSR) spokesman Miloš Čikovský said the company is ready to immediately handle the transports.

The national railroad generally transports about 5,000 tons of goods bound for Yugoslavia monthly. While exact figures are not available, the closure of boarder crossings to Yugoslavia will costs ŽSR " a couple of million crowns" per month, Čikovský said. The ŽSR chiefly transports coal and metallurgical materials to Yugoslavia.

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