US launches 2 pronged diplomatic assault on Central Asian republics - Afghanistan poppies and pipelines
Adm. William Fallon, commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), has been dashing about the Central European Republics of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and also Pakistan. On the 26th Jan he met Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov in Ashkhabad. It was no coincidence that he had been preceded by Senator Richard Lugar, who also visited Ashkhabad where he tells us that pipelines were high on the agenda. He also made stops in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and finally - on his way home - Ukraine.
In Tashkent, Fallon met President Karimov, fresh from his unexpected success in the December presidential elections (a third term - despite a constitution limiting presidents to two terms in office) as well as the Security Council secretary, defense and foreign ministers and the commander of the border troops and is said to have focussed his meetings on the problems the US have in Afghanistan - although the meetings were wrapped in secrecy.
There has been an apparent change in the official Tashkent stance which has been reciprocated by EU Special Representative for Central Asia Pierre Morel announcing that the EU considers Uzbekistan a reliable partner and wants to promote cooperation with it...on Jan. 17, just one day after Karimov's inauguration.
Brussels partially alleviated the sanctions imposed on Uzbekistan after the Andijan events and to reciprocate , Uzbekistan pardoned several human-rights champions, and has abolished capital punishment , and gave the courts the right to issue sanctions for arrest, thereby demonstrating its interest in normalizing relations with the EU.
Evidently the EU and the US are responding to the real politik that Karimov - unless he magically disappears - is there for another 7 years, sedulously playing Russia, China, Japan against the US and EU energy interests.
Human rights ... well Karimov didn't actually ban capital punishment .. it appears he is having a look at it.