In a Sept. 24 article on a U.S. delegation visiting Uzbekistan, the name of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense James MacDougall was misspelled. (Published 9/27/2005)
Amid new tensions with a key ally in the war on terrorism, the Bush administration is dispatching a high-level team to Uzbekistan tomorrow to lay out concerns on an array of political and regional security issues. The team, which will include senior officials from the State Department, Pentagon and National Security Council, is scheduled to meet President Islam Karimov on Tuesday, U.S. officials said.
One of the officials said the delegation plans to express "grave concern" about human rights violations. "This is a difficult trip, but someone has to talk to the man," the official said.
Uzbekistan in July ordered the eviction of U.S. troops and warplanes using a military base pivotal to military and humanitarian operations in neighboring Afghanistan. Tensions between Washington and Tashkent erupted after a May uprising against Uzbekistan's authoritarian government in Andijan province, where at least 180 died. Human rights groups said hundreds were killed in a crackdown by Uzbek security forces.
The United States and its European allies called for an independent international probe of the violence, which Karimov rejected. The U.S. visit comes after the trial this week of 15 men charged with launching the revolt. All 15 pleaded guilty on Tuesday.
The U.S. team will not ask Karimov to reverse his position on U.S. use of the base, officials said.
The United States has agreed to pay $23 million for past use of the base, but sources familiar with the U.S.-Uzbek talks say Tashkent wants $165 million. The Uzbekistan embassy did not reply to a request for comment on the trip last night.
Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Daniel Fried, deputy assistant secretary of defense James McDougall and National Security Council senior staff member David Merkel are part of the team that will visit Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, the officials said.