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NATO Regional Bureau Opens In Tashkent

A NATO bureau on ties and cooperation with Central Asian countries has officially opened in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent.

NATO secretary-general's Special Representative for Central Asia and the Caucasus, James Appathurai attended the May 16 opening ceremony.

Appathurai, in a telephone interview with RFE/RL's Uzbek Service said the bureau will work to "facilitate cooperation" between the alliance and all Central Asian states.

Appathurai said NATO's partnership with Central Asian nations is not in competition with their relationship with Russia.

He said, "We are not here to compete with anyone or to pressure anyone to make any sort of changes to their political orientation."

Appathurai earlier on May 16 discussed with Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov the situation in Afghanistan ahead of NATO troops' withdrawal by the end of 2014.

Uzbekistan has been a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace program since 1994.

With reporting by Interfax