Afghan operation showing progress - Rumsfeld


US-led operations against Afghanistan's Taliban regime are showing "measurable progress," US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said today on a visit to Uzbekistan, the third stage in a five-nation tour.

Mr Rumsfeld was speaking after talks with Uzbek President Islam Karimov, who is allowing US troops to use bases in the country for operations in neighbouring Afghanistan.

"The effort to deal with terrorist networks is proceeding," Mr Rumsfeld told a news conference in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent . "We believe it is proceeding at a pace that is showing measurable progress and we certainly appreciate the assistance the government of Uzbekistan has provided to us."

Mr Runsfeld would not disclose what he talked about with Mr Karimov, except to say that the discussions had been "helpful and informative."

Uzbekistan's defence minister Mr Kadyr Gulamov, also at the news conference, said the question of the US launching combat operations in Afghanistan from Uzbek soil had not been raised in the talks.

Under a deal between the two countries, US troops are only authorised to carry out humanitarian and search and rescue operations from Uzbek bases.