Wednesday, November 17, 2010 - Uzbek Defense officials agreed this week to a security cooperation pact with the U.S. military’s Central Command.
Uzbekistan’s Defense Ministry signed the program during a three-day visit to Tashkent that ends Wednesday by Commander of the U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) General James Mattis to sound out the views of Uzbek officials, the UzReport.com news agency reported.
The visit, the first of a round of trips the General plans to Central Asian countries, was spent exchanging views on regional security matters – including the situation in neighboring Afghanistan – with Uzbek officials.
Mattis signed the 2011 Program of Security Cooperation between USCENTCOM and Uzbekistan during a meeting with Uzbekistan’s Minister of Defense, General-Major Kabul Berdiev.
“The program outlines a series of mutually agreed-upon engagements and training opportunities for fiscal year 2011,” RIA Novosti cited the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent as saying Wednesday.
The U.S. Defense Department used an airbase in Uzbekistan from 2001 as part of its military operations in Afghanistan until it was evicted in late 2005 by Uzbek President Islam Karimov in response to U.S. protests over Tashkent’s deadly suppression of protests in eastern Andijan province.
The U.S. military has since exclusively used the Manas airbase near Kyrgyzstan’s capital city Bishkek.
The USCENTCOM operates in Central Asia and the Middle East.