Uzbekistan has refused to allow european members of NATO to use its airspace or territory for operations linked to peacekeeping in neighbouring Afghanistan. The ban comes into force on January the first.It is in response to an EU decision to impose visa bans and an arms embargo on the central asian state over the deaths of hundreds of people during a demonstration there in May.The ban will mainly affect Germany, which has been using Uzbekistan for logistical and air support. The Uzbek move comes as NATO is seeking to expand its presence in northern and western Afghanistan into the more dangerous south. Witnesses say about 500 people were killed on May the 13th when Uzbek troops fired into a crowd in the eastern town of Andizhan to put down a rebellion. In 1994, Uzbekistan signed an agreement to nurture closer ties with Nato. No action has been taken to downgrade the partnership, but some meetings have been cancelled to make the point that its not business as usual.