"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Monday, August 01, 2005
The United States has been given six months to shut its airbase in the central Asian state of Uzbekistan in an ultimatum that is a snub to Washington and a boost for Russia which has been deeply uneasy about the presence of the US military in an area it considers its back yard.
Washington was served notice at the weekend at its embassy in Tashkent, the Uzbek capital, and unless it can persuade the autocratic regime of Islam Karimov to change its mind it will have to close the base known as Karshi-Khanabad or "K2", within 180 days and withdraw the thousands of military personnel. K2 was established after the 9/11 attacks in the US and is used to fly humanitarian and military missions into nearby Afghanistan.
America has paid $15m (£8.5m) in rent since 2001 when it opened and it was keen to extend its lease. But Russia wants the US military out of the former Soviet central Asia.