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Uzbekistan approves bill to ban foreign military bases in country in bid to appease regional powers Russia, China

Uzbekistan's approval for a new bill that bans any foreign military base on its territory maybe seen as a move by the country to ease concerns of China and Russia, which are both influential in Central Asia.

The upper house of the Uzbek parliament has approved a new bill, in what appears to be an effort to appease Moscow.

However, Joshua Foust, an expert on Central Asia claims that the proposed bill would have an impact on US-Uzbekistan military cooperation.

"Uzbekistan has never been friends with the US per se. And this decision can be explained by Uzbekistan's desire not to be portrayed as an American puppet," the Christian Science Monitor quoted Foust, as saying.

The bill, which still has to be signed by Uzbekistan's president, appears to invalidate growing rumors that Tashkent may allow the US to open a military base in Uzbekistan to replace the major air base in neighboring Kyrgyzstan, which is due to close in 2014, and also raises questions about Uzbekistan's support of the NATO-led operation in Afghanistan.

Uzbekistan left the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russia-dominated post-Soviet security alliance, in June, because CSTO members cannot host a foreign base without consent from the rest of the member. Many interpreted Uzbekistan's this decision as a step forward to open a US base there.

Moscow has also been expressing concern over Uzbekistan's rapprochement with the US, while the Russian media have been publishing reports about the "New Great Game," a struggle for the influence in Central Asia, the report said. (ANI)