updated 9/27/2005 1:46:36 PM ET 2005-09-27T17:46:36

A senior U.S. State Department official said Tuesday the president of Uzbekistan made it clear that American forces must leave their air base in the Central Asian country, and the U.S. intends to do so “without further discussion.”

The demand came as relations soured following U.S. criticism of Uzbekistan’s crackdown on anti-government protesters in May.

“The Uzbek government made it clear that we need to leave the base, and we intend to leave it without further discussion,” Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried told reporters after meeting with President Islam Karimov.

In July, the Uzbek government invoked a provision of the basing agreement with the United States that requires all American forces to leave within six months.

Fried said the United States will withdraw the base within the period demanded by the Uzbek authorities. “We respect the deadline,” he said.

The former Soviet republic hosted the U.S. troops for operations in Afghanistan in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

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