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INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS -
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U.S. to Pay Uzbekistan $23M for Use of Military Base

Posted in the database on Wednesday, September 21st, 2005 @ 19:09:01 MST (724 views)
from MosNews  

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The United States said on Tuesday it would pay Uzbekistan nearly $23 million for use of an air base in the Central Asian country which is a hub for U.S. operations in Afghanistan but from which it is being evicted, although some members of the U.S. Congress protested the payment, Reuters reported.

Uzbekistan in July gave the United States 180 days to leave the Soviet-era Karshi-Khanabad Air Base, called K-2, following U.S. criticism of the Uzbek government’s violent suppression of demonstrators in the town of Andijan in May.

The payment that the Pentagon intends to make would cover use of the base from January 2003 through this past March, the Pentagon said. A previous payment of $15.7 million was made to cover use of the base from September 2001 through December 2002, the Pentagon said.

“Well, it certainly is the Defense Department’s practice to pay our bills. Uzbekistan has been a good partner in the war on terror, particularly ... with respect to our ongoing operations in Afghanistan,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman was quoted by Reuters as saying.

The United States is continuing to use the base despite restrictions placed by the Uzbek government on nighttime flights and the size of aircraft at K-2, the Pentagon said.

Uzbekistan allowed U.S. forces to use the base shortly after the September 11, 2001, attacks on America orchestrated by the al Qaeda network, which had been harbored by the now-deposed Taliban rulers of Afghanistan.

Whitman said the facility has helped the United States prosecute the war against the Taliban and al Qaeda and provide humanitarian relief in northern Afghanistan.



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