Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov met his American counterpart in the White House on March 12. As the newspapers of the Soviet era would say, the atmosphere of the meeting was warm and friendly. George W.Bush was very courteous with Islam Karimov. For example, he appreciated Uzbekistan’s key role in the anti-terror operation in Afghanistan. The president of Uzbekistan was the first among the presidents of the Asiatic countries to understand, the US-led anti-terror operation in Afghanistan against bin Laden was very advantageous. When Islam Karimov allowed the US troops to the military base in Hanabad, he expected the USA would settle the problem in Afghanistan, and, at the same time, would get even with Juma Namangani, the leader of Uzbek Islamites. The expectations have come true: Namangani died, nothing is threatening Karimov’s autocratic authority.
And what about the USA? Washington must had been perfectly aware of the fact that Islam Karimov used US army’s presence in Uzbekistan for strengthening of his own authority. Probably, the US president was then more concerned about the war with the Talibs, not personal motives of the Uzbekkstan’s president. The White House knows that Uzbekistan’s ruling regime resembles mostly the eastern despotism. The US president recommended Karimov to “work more on human rights observance”.
During negotiations George W.Bush said once again, the USA was not planning to create steady military bases on Uzbekistan’s territory. No steady military bases could be spoken about seriously so far, as the Central Asiatic region is very unstable – conflicts are often there. The recent events in Afghanistan demonstrated, the Talibs movement can not be liquidated one and for all at once. And it is not clear, for how long their activity will last. The situation in neighboring Pakistan is rather tense, the Islamites are still very active there.
The USA has got not enough prospective allies in the Central and South Asia, it may rely only upon the semi-monarchical regimes of former Soviet Central Asiatic republics. That is why co-operation is to be established with these countries even despite the fact that they lack necessary civilian freedoms.
On behalf of the US and Uzbekistan’s governments US Secretary of State Colin Powell and Uzbekistan’s Foreign Minister Adulaziz Kamilov signed a joint US-Uzbek declaration on strategic partnership and co-operation in the political, economic and juridical spheres, and in security problems as well. The declaration was signed in Washington. In addition, an agreement on co-operation in non-proliferation of nuclear technologies, an agreement on a $55 million credit to small and medium-sized enterprises in Uzbekistan, and agreement on purchase of a ground for construction of a new building of the US Embassy in Tashkent were signed during the meeting. One more, rather mysterious agreement was signed by the parties; it is an agreement on co-operation in the science and technologies sphere. Does Uzbekistan own some technologies that may be interesting for the USA? On the other hand, if the agreement exists, there must be some.
The visit to Washington is extremely important for Islam Karimov. Tashkent has got an influential ally, it is clear to everyone. Karimov’s regime, in its turn, has got a powerful support of the USA. America will help Karimov if he fails to do something. It means, Uzbekistan’s president can relax for some time. And as for the human rights, as usual, the wool can be put on the eyes as for the problem; the leaders in the Central Asiatic countries are very good at it.
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
In the photo: Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/03/13/38168.html