US Uzbekistan base may be stationed in Azerbaijan, report says

Assa-Irada, Azerbaijan
Aug 2 2005

Baku, August 1, AssA-Irada -- The military base the USA plans to
withdraw from Uzbekistan may be stationed in Azerbaijan, Russian
Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper reported.

The Khanabad base, previously the former Soviet Union air force base,
was given to the disposal of the United States prior to the attack it
launched on Afghanistan in October 2001. The base, located close to
the Afghan-Uzbek border, is the key US military ground in Central
Asia, stationing 1,500 military men supplied with 30 military
helicopters. The F-15 and F-16 airplanes took off 50 to 60 times
from Khanabad during the military action in Afghanistan. The base is
currently used as an airport for heavy airplanes carrying cargo and
fuel to US troops in Afghanistan.

The Russian publication also said that due to the presence of similar
US bases in Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan, losing the base in Khanabad is
not likely to seriously affect the military supplies of US contingent.

Official Tashkent has made a decision for US to pull out its base
from Khanabad over the next 180 days.

The Azerbaijan Defense Ministry spokesman Ramiz Malikov, commenting
on the possibility of moving the base to Azerbaijani territory, told
local ANS TV channel that although the issue is of military nature,
'it is of political importance'.

"The Ministry therefore cannot express its position on the matter.

The issue should be addressed on the state level." Deputy Foreign
Minister Araz Azimov has said that Azerbaijan has not received any
official appeals and the reports on the issue have been released only
in some media so far.*