Russian foreign minister insists Uzbekistan will not allow US troops on its soil, while Tashkent holding talks with US military delegation
MOSCOW (AA) – Despite the ongoing contacts between the Uzbek and US military, Moscow continues denying that Tashkent will authorize the deployment of the US military mission on its territory.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed on Thursday that Russia’s Central Asian counterparts, including Uzbekistan, stand firm in their unwillingness to host the US troops.
“Our Central Asian neighbors, allies, strategic partners in contacts with us confirm that for them, such callings (to deploy a US military mission) are unacceptable,” the minister said at a news conference, following a meeting of the Commonwealth of Independent States Council of Foreign Ministers.
“To us, all our Central Asian friends say that they don’t want the deployment of the US (troops) or any other NATO countries’,” he said.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova in a separate statement said US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, who visited Russia this week, was told that the deployment of the US or NATO military infrastructure in Central Asia is categorically unacceptable for Russia.
Meanwhile, Uzbekistan has welcomed numerous US guests in recent weeks, including a Pentagon delegation, which is currently discussing with the Uzbek authorities the possibility of deploying “over the horizon” counter-terrorism forces aiming to maintain the surveillance on Afghanistan and strike targets in this country if necessary.
In July, Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Washington to discuss wider cooperation in security.
Following a meeting, Blinken said in a tweet “Uzbekistan is an important partner for regional security and growth.”
In return for Uzbekistan’s agreement on military arrangements, the US promises wider economic cooperation and privileges, including lifting some trade barriers.