US to use Uzbek military base for Afghan attacks: NATO

Uzbekistan may let the United States use a military airbase for operations in Afghanistan after evicting U.S. troops in 2005, a NATO official and diplomats said on Wednesday.

US to use Uzbek military base for Afghan attacks: NATO
Once an ally in the U.S. wars, Uzbekistan evicted U.S. troops from Karshi-Khanabad airbase in 2005 when the West condemned it for firing on protesters in the town of Andizhan.

Robert Simmons, NATO's special envoy for the Caucasus and Central Asia, was quoted as saying in Moscow that Tashkent was now willing to let the United States use Termez, another Uzbek airbase operated by Germany.

"We welcome the fact Uzbekistan has shown readiness to allow other countries to use this airbase," he was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies. "As far as I understand, the United States is beginning to use this facility."

Uzbekistan's government, accused in the West of suppressing basic freedoms and tolerating no dissent, has made no public statements pointing to a shift in its position on U.S. troops.

The Unites States set up its base, known as K2, in 2001 for attacks in neighbouring Afghanistan. Germany, the only other Western nation operating a military airbase in Uzbekistan, was allowed to keep its forces after 2005.

A Western diplomat in Tashkent said the deal involved allowing U.S. military personnel to use the Termez base, not K2, as a refuelling point on their way to Afghanistan and back.

"I understand...U.S. soldiers will be able to fly via Termez but only aboard German aircraft," the diplomat said. "I don't know if there are any similar agreements with other nations."

Reuters
Last Mod: 06 Mart 2008, 11:25
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