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Uzbekistan leaves security bloc

Published By United Press International
MOSCOW, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Uzbekistan has officially ended its membership in a Russian-led international collective security organization, the president of Belarus announced in Moscow.

At a meeting of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, composed of post-Soviet nations, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said, "We have granted their request and halted, suspended [Uzbekistan's] CSTO membership."

The withdrawal does not affect bilateral or multinational efforts to combat terrorism, Russian Federal Security Service chief Alexander Bortnikov said, adding, "Work along those lines will continue."

Uzbekistan's new foreign strategy precludes military alliances and bans foreign bases on Uzbek territory, the Russian news service RIA Novosti said.
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Race winner Bradley Wiggins of Great Britain (C) stands between second place finisher Christopher Froome of Great Britain (L) and third place finisher Vincenzo Nibali of Italy on the presentation podium following the final stage of the Tour de France in Paris on July 22, 2012. Wiggins of Great Britain became that country's first ever overall winner of the Tour de France. UPI/David Silpa