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Uzbekistan pulls out of regional defence meeting

Uzbekistan will not attend a meeting of a regional defence organization, a government official told AFP on Thursday, in another sign of the Central Asian state's increasingly insular foreign policy.

world Updated: Apr 16, 2009 16:18 IST

Uzbekistan will not attend a meeting of a regional defence organization, a government official told AFP on Thursday, in another sign of the Central Asian state's increasingly insular foreign policy.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Tashkent would not be sending a representative to a foreign minister's meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, set to start on Thursday in Yerevan.

The CSTO is the largest collective security organization in the post-Soviet sphere.

It functions similarly to NATO, holding joint military training exercises and promising collective responses to attacks on member states.

The isolated ex-Soviet state has already withdrawn from other regional organizations, even as its security cooperation with the West has increased.

Late last year Tashkent withdrew from the Eurasian Economic Community, and last month it declined to send a representative to a conference hosted in Moscow to discuss the ongoing fighting in Afghanistan.

But earlier this month Uzbekistan signed a deal with the United States to allow non-military material to transit the country to support NATO forces fighting in increasingly unstable Afghanistan.

Tashkent closed a US airbase that helped support operations in Afghanistan in 2005, following EU and US criticism over the Uzbek government's handling of an armed uprising in the city of Andijan.