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Rumsfeld, Briefing Uzbek Leaders, Says Military Operation Showing 'Measurable Progress' - 2001-11-04

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the military operation in Afghanistan is showing "measurable progress." He made his comments after meeting with leaders in Uzbekistan to discuss the situation in neighboring Afghanistan.

Making a brief appearance with the defense minister of Uzbekistan, Mr. Rumsfeld thanked the Uzbek government for allowing U.S. forces to operate from the country. About 1,000 U.S. troops are carrying out humanitarian and search-and-rescue missions from Uzbekistan under an agreement reached between the two governments.

Both men said there are no plans to change the agreement to allow U.S. forces to use a military base in Uzbekistan for combat missions. Early in the bombing campaign, the ruling Taleban in Afghanistan threatened to attack Uzbekistan if it supported the military effort.

Mr. Rumsfeld also met with Uzbek President Islam Karimov to brief him on developments in the military operation. Mr. Karimov decided to support the U.S.-led coalition largely because he faces his own Islamic fundamentalist threat. The Uzbek leader accuses the Taleban of supporting a small group of rebels who have declared their aim of bringing down his government.

The support offered to the United States by Uzbekistan is unprecedented. The American troops in the country are the first ever deployed in a former Soviet state as part of a war effort.

Mr. Rumsfeld arrived in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, after stops in Moscow and Tajikistan.

Pakistan and India are the final two countries on his itinerary to discuss the military campaign with leaders in Islamabad and New Delhi.