Uzbek President Islam Karimov says his government plans to re-open the bridge leading from the Uzbek port of Termez to northern Afghanistan, but warned the region must first be secured.
The Uzbek leader also confirmed that U-S troops are stationed in the country. He said they are being used mostly for search-and-rescue operations.
Uzbekistan has been facing intense pressure from humanitarian aid groups and foreign governments to re-open the so-called "friendship bridge' over the river Amu Darya -- the only road link between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.
Aid officials say the refusal to open the bridge has severely hampered efforts to get food and other basic necessities to the Afghan people.
Uzbek officials, who fear incursions by Islamic extremists, say they want to be assured of a stable situation in Afghanistan before they re-open the bridge.
The kilometer-long bridge was built in 1982 during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. It was closed four years ago when the Taleban took power in neighboring Afghanistan.