US needs bases in Central Asia: General Myers,00050001.htm

Press Trust of India
Washington, July 15, 2005

The United States needs bases in Central Asia to ensure security and stability in the region, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Myers has said.

Commenting on the demand by Russia and China that the US leave the bases now that the Afghan war is over, Myers said "Central Asia is important to the United States for lots of reasons, not just for operations in Afghanistan."

He alleged that the two countries were trying to "bully" smaller countries in this regard.

"Security and stability in Central Asia is an important concept and those that can bring security and stability ought to be welcomed in Central Asia," he said.

Uzbekistan recently restricted American use of bases in that country following US criticism of the way the authorities put down a demonstration organised, according to Uzbekistan, by Islamic fundamentalists.

"Uzbekistan is a very important country over there. We are concerned with the 300 or so folks that were killed, during the rioting that went on there not so long ago. But we still value and think it is important that we have some military to military contact," Myers said.

"One of the big problems that Uzbekistan faces is the threat of terrorism from the IMU (an Islamic fundamentalist organisation) and we can certainly help in that."