Monday, August 01, 2005 > In Iraq -- U.S. force in Afghanistan plays down Uzbek eviction > In Iraq -- U.S. force in Afghanistan plays down Uzbek eviction:


KABUL – Uzbekistan's decision to evict the United States from a key military base will not affect operations in neighbouring Afghanistan, the U.S. military said on Monday.

The United States was told on Friday of Uzbekistan's decision to evict it from the Karshi-Khanabad air base, which has been used as a hub for combat and humanitarian missions to Afghanistan since just after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.

'Our ability to execute combat operations ... in Afghanistan will not be hindered by this decision,' Colonel Jim Yonts, a spokesman for the U.S. military, told a regular briefing.

'We have locations and assets in place that we can flex ... to continue these operations.'

Uzbekistan has given no reason for evicting U.S. forces from the base, known as K-2, but relations have been strained by the authoritarian Uzbek government's bloody suppression of a rebellion in the eastern town of Andizhan in May, which drew U.S. criticism.

Washington's presence in Central Asia has also caused tensions with Russia and China, which joined the five ex-Soviet Central Asian states this month to demand a deadline for their withdrawal.

Uzbekistan has given the United States six months to move aircraft, personnel and equipment from the base."

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