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Central Asia: Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan Give Air Corridors To U.S.

Bishkek, 25 September 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Kyrgyzstan has agreed to a U.S. request to grant air corridors for planes involved in possible operations in Afghanistan. President Askar Akaev said today the decision was made after consultation with five other former Soviet republics comprising a Collective Security Pact. He did not specify whether the planes will be for military or only humanitarian use.

Another member of the Security Pact, Kazakhstan, has offered strategically vital aerodromes and bases for a potential strike on Afghanistan.

Kyrgyzstan is a neighbor of another security pact member, Tajikistan, which borders Afghanistan. Tajikistan and another Afghanistan neighbor, Uzbekistan, have denied media reports that U.S. military planes have already arrived.

Turkmenistan, which has a short strip of border with Afghanistan, said today it will offer air corridors for humanitarian flights to the crisis area.

Saudi Arabia today severed diplomatic relations with Afghanistan's ruling Islamist Taliban over their links with suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden.

The United Arab Emirates cut ties with the Taliban three days ago. Pakistan is now the only country to recognize the fundamentalist militia.

Pakistan reopened its southwestern border today to allow thousands of Afghan refugees to flee a possible U.S. military strike against the Taliban.

And a European Union delegation began talks with Pakistani officials in Islamabad to bolster Pakistan's support for the fight against terrorism.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to meet with Germany's Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and President Johannes Rau in Germany today to discuss the international response to the 11 September terrorist attacks on the United States.

In Washington, U.S. President George W. Bush is scheduled to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in a continuing effort to form a global coalition against international terrorism.

Yesterday, Bush issued an executive order freezing the U.S. assets of bin Laden, the prime suspect in the recent attacks. Japan's finance minister said today that Japan would also freeze the assets of organizations connected to suspected terrorists.