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US urged to give bases deadline

BBC News | July 6, 2005

An alliance of former Soviet states and China has urged the US-led coalition in Afghanistan to set a timetable for withdrawing troops from member states.

The Shanghai Co-operation Organisation said it continued to support the anti-terror coalition in Afghanistan, which had stabilised the situation.

But in a joint statement the group said the active military phase of the Afghan operation was nearing completion.

Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan host US bases used to back troops in Afghanistan.

About 18,000 coalition forces are in Afghanistan tracking al-Qaeda and Taleban militants.

At talks in Kazakhstan, the Shanghai group called on the coalition to agree a deadline for ending the temporary use of bases and air space in nearby countries.

Correspondents say the statement appears to reflect increasing concerns that the US is encouraging the overthrow of Central Asia's authoritarian governments.

The statement comes after Kyrgyzstan's leader was ousted in March, and follows Western criticism of the Uzbek authorities for their violent suppression of dissent in eastern Uzbekistan.

Europe's security body, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), said between 300-500 people died when troops fired on a rally in the city of Andijan. Tashkent says 173 died.


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