Kyrgyzstan Urges Central Asian States to Back Afghan Opposition
The interior minister of Kyrgyzstan called Saturday for central Asian states to provide military support to the Afghan opposition ahead of possible US strikes against the Taliban militia there.
"The countries of our region should supply military aid to the Northern Alliance because it represents the legitimate government of Afghanistan," Interior Minister Tashtemir Aitbayev told reporters.
At the same time, Askar Aitmatov, an advisor to President Askar Akayev, said that any US request for access to Kyrgyzstan's territory and air space "should be studied very attentively," but he did not specify whether that meant Kyrgyzstan would respond favorably to such a request.
Most of the former Soviet republics in central Asia have come out in favor of providing assistance to the United States in possible strikes against suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.
The United States considers him the chief suspect behind the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
Only Turkmenistan, which has a common border of 744 kilometers with Afghanistan, has shown reluctance in allowing US forces to use its territory.
Meanwhile, at a meeting with Russian Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushaylo, Akayev called for a meeting of the countries party to the collective security treaty of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS -- the former Soviet republics with the exception of the Baltic states).
"We will not allow war to engulf the entire region," Rushaylo said after the meeting.
Rushaylo has been touring the former Soviet republics in central Asia since Monday to gauge their position on possible US strikes against Afghanistan.
Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are signatories to the CIS collective security treaty -- BISHKEK (AFP)
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