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SCO Calls For Deadline On U.S. Presence In Central Asia

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev (r) with Chinese leader Hu Jintao 5 July 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Russia, China, and the Central Asian states told U.S.-led troops today to fix a date for their departure from bases in Central Asia that were set up to support operations in Afghanistan in 2001.

The United States operates military air bases in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

The call was made at a summit in Kazakhstan of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which groups the five former Soviet Central Asian republics with Russia and China.

A joint SCO declaration says member states of the SCO believe that participants in the antiterrorism coalition should define a deadline for the temporary military presence on SCO member-state territory.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Hu Jintao joined other regional leaders in making the call just a day before they were both due to meet U.S. President George W. Bush in Scotland at a Group of Eight (G-8) summit.

Putin said the group is against using force to impose models of development.

"They [the declaration's points] have been drawn up on the basis of our shared views on the need to respect and to protect," Putin said. "They reflect our understanding of the multifaceted nature of civilization and models of development. The declaration calls against imposing models and standards by the threat or use of force."

(compiled from agency reports)