U.S. to Stay in Central Asia After Uzbekistan Pullout — Source
MosNews | August 5, 2005
|The USA intends to maintain its military presence in Central Asia despite the upcoming closedown of its air base in Uzbekistan, the Interfax news agency reports quoting a high-ranking Moscow-based military-diplomatic source.
“The Pentagon has not yet finally decided where the air base could be relocated from Uzbekistan, but it plans to maintain its military presence in the region,” the source said.
The US military have started to transfer military equipment from Uzbekistan to the Manas air base near Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, which the US Air Force has used since 2001, he said. “However, this does not mean that the Qarshi-Xonobod air base will be relocated exactly in Kyrgyzstan, because other options are also under consideration,” he aid.
“The Americans might deploy an air base at the Aini airfield near Dushanbe (Tajikistan), or at the Ganca airfield 300 km west of Baku and near Nasosnaya outside Baku in Azerbaijan,” he said.
“By expert estimates, the most preferable option for the Pentagon is to deploy an air base in Tajikistan. Flights from the Aini airfield would make it possible for US military planes to fly to any regions in Afghanistan without refueling, which is impossible to do flying, for instance, from the Manas airfield,” the source said.
The US Air Force currently uses Manas and Qarshi-Xonobod air bases in Central Asia for logistics support of its troops in Afghanistan, he said.
Tashkent demanded last week that Washington closes down its Qarshi-Xonobod air base within 180 days.