updated 7/5/2005 7:03:27 AM ET 2005-07-05T11:03:27

An alliance of Russia, China and central Asian nations called for the U.S. and coalition members in Afghanistan to set a date for withdrawing from member states, reflecting growing unease over America’s regional military presence.

Alliance members Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan both host U.S. bases whose troops are involved in Afghanistan.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, at a summit in the Kazakh capital, said in a declaration that a withdrawal date should be set in light of what it said was a decline of active fighting in Afghanistan.

“We support and will support the international coalition which is carrying out an anti-terror campaign in Afghanistan, and we have taken note of the progress made in the effort to stabilize the situation,” the declaration said.

“As the active military phase in the anti-terror operation in Afghanistan is nearing completion, the SCO would like the coalition’s members to decide on the deadline for the use of the temporary infrastructure and for their military contingents’ presence in those countries,” the declaration continues.

Both Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan are former Soviet republics that Moscow regards historically as part of its sphere of influence. The Kremlin did not object when those states agreed to host U.S. troops following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Growing uneasiness over U.S. presence
However, the statement appears to reflect growing uneasiness with the U.S. presence and increasing concerns that the United States is encouraging the overthrow of Central Asia’s authoritarian governments.

Earlier Tuesday, leaders at the summit vowed to step up security cooperation and accused unnamed outside forces of trying to destabilize Central Asia.

Their statements follow the violently suppressed uprising in eastern Uzbekistan in May and the March turmoil in Kyrgyzstan, when demonstrators stormed the presidential offices and sent the president fleeing into exile.

Chinese leader Hu Jintao said at the summit that “we have to make every effort to step up security cooperation or else all our talks about stability will be pointless.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin said: “New regional threats are of a trans-border nature. ... There are people who place orders and execute them. Our task is to find them and render them harmless and also to prevent their activity.”

Islam Karimov, the authoritarian president of Uzbekistan, said radical Islamists are among the forces seeking instability in Central Asia.

Uzbekistan was widely denounced abroad for the harsh suppression of the May uprising in the city of Andjian, in which Uzbek authorities say 176 people died but rights activists say as many as 750 may have been killed. However, both Russia and China expressed support for Uzbek authorities at the time.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization includes China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

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