The Afghanistan-based movement Taliban is threatening to unleash war against Uzbekistan if the latter allows the USA use its territory for delivering retaliatory strikes on Afghanistan. The Taliban were "outraged" by Uzbek President Islam Karimov's words reportedly addressed to U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that the USA can use an air base in Uzbekistan to deploy its air forces, Austrian radio reported Taliban's Radio Voice of Sharia as saying. In the meantime, in a statement released on Saturday Karimov condemned media reports about the republic allowing the U.S. armed forces and other Western countries on its territory as an "information attack" and "pure guesswork" and dismissed the information about the United States' 10th mountain rifle division being stationed in Uzbekistan and preparing to attack Afghanistan as false. In Karimov's opinion, the purpose of such statements is to complicate relations between countries of the region, create a confrontation and undermine mutual trust. It is a principle with Uzbekistan's policy to allow no military land operations and no bombing attacks on Afghanistan from the Uzbek territory, he stressed. At the same time, Karimov did admit that Tashkent was about to permit the U.S. Air Force use its air space, organise information exchange between two countries' security organs, and allow U.S. transport planes and helicopters use an Uzbek military airfield. In his words, the country is busy creating working conditions for U.S. specialists and technical staff responsible for maintenance of these aircraft. However, Uzbekistan does not intend to make the airfield fully available to the U.S. Air Force. "Our military planes will naturally remain there," stressed Karimov. "U.S. aircraft will be used exclusively for humanitarian purposes and search-and-rescue operations. Their number is limited and includes transport and cargo planes and helicopters only."
Mysterious philanthropist, Rustem Magdeev, had agreed, at his own expense, to donate a sculpture of Rudolf Nureyev, made by Russian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli, to the Kazan Opera and Ballet Theatre