TASHKENT, August 18 (RIA Novosti) - The president of Uzbekistan told a top U.S. military official on Tuesday that his country is ready to strengthen ties with the United States on equal partnership terms.
Islam Karimov met with Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the U.S. Central Command, who is in Tashkent on a one-day visit.
"Petraeus told Karimov that the current U.S. administration is interested in cooperation with Uzbekistan in several areas," the Uzbek leader's spokesperson told RIA Novosti.
"During the conversation, the sides exchanged opinions on perspectives for Uzbek-U.S. relations, and also on other issues of mutual interest."
Ties between the two countries have been strained since mid-2005, when Uzbekistan ousted the U.S. Air Force from the Karshi-Khanabad base, which had been used for operations in neighboring Afghanistan since 2001. The move followed condemnation by the U.S. and other Western countries of the May 2005 Andijan massacre, when Uzbek troops opened fire on a crowd of protesters.