U.S. and NATO only trouble Central Asia

Russian Security Council chief Igor Ivanov on Tuesday accused the United States and NATO of pressuring Central Asian nations and encouraging mass protests.

Ivanov said such pressure had increased tensions in the region while attending a meeting of top officials of the six-nation Collective Security Treaty - a military pact that links Russia with Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

"The pressure that NATO and U.S. political and military structures are exerting on Central Asia is heightening tensions," RIA-Novosti qouted him as saying.

"There have been attempts to intervene in the political life of the newly independent states under the guise of advancing democratic values and freedoms and to use protests to pressure the authorities," Ivanov added.

Uzbek President Islam Karimov, who has faced harsh Western criticism over brutal suppression of an uprising in May, has edged closer to Russia and, earlier this month, signed an alliance treaty that opens the way for a Russian military deployment in Uzbekistan for the first time since the Soviet collapse.

Ivanov, however, said Tuesday that Russia had no immediate intention to open new military bases in Central Asia. "The deployment of additional military bases isn't being planned at the moment," RIA-Novosti quoted him as saying.


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