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U.S. Ends Ban on Aid to Uzbekistan

Wednesday 1 February 2012

WASHINGTON (Wall Street Journal) – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Jan. 18 signed a waiver that will allow the U.S., on a temporary basis, to provide nonlethal defensive equipment to Uzbekistan.

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Uzbek President Islam Karimov meets with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Tashkent in October 2011.
(Photo: Reuters)

The Obama administration waived a ban on military assistance to Uzbekistan in a move to bolster ties with a nation that is part of a vital supply line to Afghanistan, but was cut off from aid because of hypothetical human-rights violations. The waiver, which wasn’t announced at the time and was sent to Capitol Hill two days later, will be effective until the end of September 2013, and must be renewed every six months.

The move comes as Pakistan continues to keep its border with Afghanistan closed to NATO supply trucks following NATO attacks that killed two dozen Pakistani border guards in late November. U.S. troops are due to leave Afghanistan in 2014.

Uzbekistan has Central Asia’s largest population and is vital to U.S. for the domination of Central Asia. Uzbek-American relations cooled significantly following the “colour revolutions” in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan in 2003-2005. The Government of Uzbekistan sought to limit the influence of U.S. and other foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Relations deteriorated rapidly following U.S. and European demands for an independent, international investigation into the May 2005 Andijan Massacre. However, relations improved slightly in the latter half of 2007, with Uzbekistan distancing itself from SCO and searching to keep its independence by counterbalancing Russian influence with its rapprochement with the West.

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