World Bulletin / News Desk
NATO has cemented its ties with Uzbekistan after opening an office in the capital Tashkent on Friday.
A bureau dedicated on ties and cooperation with Central Asian countries was opened by NATO secretary-general's Special Representative for Central Asia and the Caucasus, James Appathurai.
Speaking to Radio Free Europe, Appathurai said the bureau will work to "facilitate cooperation" between the alliance and all Central Asian states, but denied that NATO was competing with Russia for influence in the region.
"We are not here to compete with anyone or to pressure anyone to make any sort of changes to their political orientation," he said.
Russia has been expanding its influence in the region after Kazakhstan joined the Russian-led Customs Union, which many deem to be a revival of the Soviet Union based on a model similar to the European Union.
Along with Russia and Kazakhstan, Belarus is also a member, while Armenia is preparing to apply. Kyrgyzstan has also expressed interest in joining the bloc.
Uzbekistan became a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace program for in 1994 shortly after gaining independence from the Soviet Union. The country set take on a greater role to ensure the stability of neighbor Afghanistan after the pull out of NATO forces later this year.Güncelleme Tarihi: 17 Mayıs 2014, 17:34