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18:26 GMT +3 hours18 December 2014
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Ceremony to close U.S. military base held in Uzbekistan

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TASHKENT, November 21 (RIA Novosti, Abu-Ali Niyazmatov) - A ceremony shutting down a U.S. military base in Khanabad, Uzbekistan was held in the central Asian republic Monday, the Uzbek Defense Ministry's press service said.

A U.S. colonel presented a certificate of appreciation and a U.S. flag to an Uzbek official, the press service said. The last aircraft left the base at 3.40 p.m. Tashkent time (9.40 a.m. GMT).

The Khanabad airbase was set up in 2001 to support the U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan. More than 1,500 U.S. soldiers were stationed there.

In the summer of 2005, the Uzbek parliament addressed the country's government with a request to withdraw the U.S. base in Khanabad. The parliament members cited the base's negative effect on the environment and the health of locals.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which comprises Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, China, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, called on the coalition states to define the timeframe of foreign contingents positioning in the countries and using their infrastructures on July 5.

In late July, Uzbekistan asked the U.S. to withdraw its military contingent from Khanabad.