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Uzbekistan wants NATO allies out

Associated Press
Published November 24, 2005


BRUSSELS, Belgium - Uzbekistan has told NATO allies they can no longer use its territory or airspace to support peacekeeping missions in neighboring Afghanistan - an likely retaliatory move against a West critical of the former Soviet republic's human rights record, alliance officials said Wednesday.

Uzbekistan's shift away from once-warm relations with the West has been matched by closer ties with Russia, ever wary of Western influence in its former Soviet satellites. The two countries this month signed a treaty opening the way for a Russian military deployment.

NATO officials said alternatives would be found.

"There will be no diminishment of our ability to support our operation in Afghanistan," NATO spokesman James Appathurai said.

NATO diplomats said Uzbek authorities told European allies - including Germany and Spain - that they must withdraw troops and stop overflights by Jan. 1.

Uzbekistan already had ordered out the U.S. military.

[Last modified November 24, 2005, 00:19:08]


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