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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Central Asia Presidents Sign Accord

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- Concerned by conflicts in Tajikistan and Afghanistan, the presidents of three Central Asian nations Friday agreed to call on one another for help if their territory is threatened.

The leaders of Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan signed a friendship treaty and approved a plan to set up a joint council, Interfax said.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakstan told a news conference after the summit that the treaty would allow the parties to resolve any problems in a neighborly manner, the news agency reported.

Earlier, Russian news agencies said he and Kyrgyzstan's Askar Akayev and Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan had hoped to formulate a joint position on the future of their peacekeeping force in Tajikistan, but it was not specifically mentioned in the final document.

Small contingents from the three countries are part of a Russian-dominated peacekeeping force that supports Tajikistan's hard-line government in its battle with rebel groups.

The three presidents were to meet again Jan. 17 in Moscow with Russian President Boris Yeltsin and other Commonwealth of Independent States leaders, but the meeting was postponed Friday at Yeltsin's request.

Meanwhile, a Tajik delegation led by Prime Minister Yahya Azimov was in Uzbekistan on Friday for talks on improving trade.

The two sides were expected to reach agreements on deliveries of Uzbek gas and oil products and railway freight cars to Tajikistan, Itar-Tass said.