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U.S. Says Will Pay For Use Of Uzbek Air Base

20 September 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S. Defense Department says it will pay Uzbekistan what it owes for the use of an air base used by U.S.-led coalition forces operating in Afghanistan.

In July, the Uzbek government asked the United States to remove its troops and equipment from the Karshi-Khanabad base by the end of this year.

The U.S.-led coalition had been using the base since late 2001.

Spokesman Bryan Whitman said it is the U.S. Defense Department's practice to pay its bills. Whitman said Washington will pay Uzbekistan $23 million after already paying almost $16 million for use of the base through 2002.

The Uzbek government told the United States to vacate the base after Washington criticized Uzbekistan for using deadly force against demonstrators in Andijon in May.