UK Defense Secretary Phillip Hammond meets with Afghan troops in Helmand.
The UK will give or sell military equipment to Uzbekistan as it withdraws its forces from Afghanistan, the country's secretary of defense has reaffirmed, suggesting that London will have a pretty liberal policy for doing so.
During a visit to British forces in Helmand, Afghanistan, defense secretary Philip Hammond was asked about Uzbekistan's prospects for getting British equipment, The Times (UK) reports:
Mr Hammond, on a brief tour in Helmand, said: "Clearly those that have helped us would have a strong claim on any surplus material." He added that gifting or selling equipment under value would have to be reported to Parliament. "We have already agreed on the structure of the deal and it's just going through the ratification process now, and I am highly confident that that will happen," he added.
"We have a general principle that we don't transfer equipment that might be used for internal repression, but the Uzbeks have a clear challenge in the post-2014 period around their long border with Afghanistan. This is not just against an insurgency or Islamists, but also against crime and narcotics."
Hammond apparently declined to talk about exactly what sort of equipment was being given, but the Times suggested that armored vehicles could be part of the deal. His remarks don't really add much from what the UK's then-armed forces secretary, Nick Harvey, told EurasiaNet a year ago, except that it seems now that this process is further along and hasn't encountered any roadblocks. What's striking is that while the U.S. at least claims to have some reservations about giving Uzbekistan lethal equipment, the British seem to have no such compunctions.