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NATO Plants Flag In Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov meets NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on a visit to Brussels in 2011. (photo: NATO)

NATO formally opened its liaison office in Uzbekistan on Friday, a year after it started working and amid heightened Russian rhetoric about the western alliance encroaching on its backyard.

The opening itself was not a big deal: it only formalized a move that happened last year, which was itself described by NATO officials as just a "rotation" of NATO's representation in Central Asia from Astana to Tashkent. (NATO calls the new structure in Tashkent a "liaison office," while the preferred phrase in the Russian-language press seems to be the much more impressive-sounding "staff headquarters.") Nevertheless, the opening ceremony was held in a very different geopolitical atmosphere than obtained last year, and so it was inevitable that people would seek to try to figure out what it really meant.

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NATO Plants Flag In Uzbekistan

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