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Friday October 5, 02:25 PM
Uzbekistan against military strikes on Afghanistan
TASHKENT, Uzbekistan (Reuters) - Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov says his country will allow U.S. forces to use one airfield as part of its campaign in Afghanistan, but only for humanitarian or search and rescue operations.
Karimov also said Uzbekistan was opposed to any military strikes against neighbouring Afghanistan, and would not allow U.S. special operations forces to be deployed from his country.
Asked by reporters during a joint news conference with U.S. Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, why he would not allow special forces to work out of his country, Karimov said, "We are not quite ready for this."
The Uzbek president said the U.S. would be allowed to use one airfield for cargo planes, helicopters and troops purely for humanitarian and search and rescue operations during any military strike against Afghanistan, whose ruling Taliban is accused by Washington of harbouring Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the Sept. 11 hijack attacks on New York and Washington.