The U.S. base in Kyrgyzstan (file photo)
26 July 2005 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is expected in Dushanbe today for talks with Tajik government officials as he continues a three-day tour of Central Asia and the Middle East.
Tajik official Maruf Khasanov has said Rumsfeld will meet with President Imomali Rakhmonov and Defense Minister General Sherali Khairulloev to discuss military issues.
U.S. officials have released few details about Rumsfeld's tour, which comes three weeks after the Shanghai Cooperation Organization -- grouping Kyrgyzstan, Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan -- said the United States should set a date for withdrawing from military bases in Central Asia.
Rumsfeld said while in Bishkek on 25 July that loss of access to an airbase in Kyrgyzstan would not set back U.S. military operations in Afghanistan. Rumsfeld said the United States has options for compensating for the loss of any single base in the region.
Rumsfeld is due to meet with Kyrgyzstan's newly elected President Kurmanbek Bakiev before departing for Tajikistan.