Rumsfeld To Visit Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, Oman And Egypt

Addressing a Tuesday briefing in Washington after a meeting with Indian Minister of Defence and External Affairs Jaswant Singh, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said his foreign tour, which starts on Wednesday, will include a visit to Uzbekistan. According to Rumsfeld, personal meetings with the Uzbek leadership look expedient enough in the light of the country's "geography and position," explained Rumsfeld, but refused to say if his trip to Uzbekistan was intended as a prelude to the military operation against Taleban. During the tour, Rumsfeld will visit Saudi Arabia, Oman and Egypt /but not Pakistan, which "was not included on the program"/. He is expected to be back in Washington by Saturday. Pointing out that it was his first trip to the Mideast and Central Asia as the US defence secretary, Rumsfeld said he hoped to get an opportunity to visit US troops stationed in the region, including those participating in the annual Bright Star exercise in Egypt. He also stressed that Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda's involvement in the terrorist attacks on the USA was "obvious" and no further proof was needed to confirm that.

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