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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kremlin Talks Boost Uzbek-Russian Ties




President Boris Yeltsin and Uzbekistan leader Islam Karimov welcomed on Wednesday a warming in relations long overshadowed by mistrust over Moscow's role in Central Asia.


The two presidents also forged a "troika" with the Tajik leadership to try to end violence in Tajikistan.


"We are in a good mood today. I am completely satisfied with the results of our talks," Karimov said after they met in the Kremlin.


Yeltsin, 67, also sounded optimistic after signing several agreements with Karimov, including an accord to cooperate in the design, assembly and supply of Ilyushin airliners by Uzbekistan.


"We agreed on everything. No empty or blank spots remain," Yeltsin said. "It is up to us now to work harder to carry out all that we have agreed."


Fears over instability in Central Asia, and the spread of radicalism, were behind the agreement to forge a troika with Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov to seek peace in Tajikistan.


Karimov said the troika would work to end the violence that has erupted twice this year in Tajikistan.


He said the new partners should also work together to revive Tajikistan's economy and oppose aggressive Islamic fundamentalism in both Central Asia and the North Caucasus regions, Interfax reported.


Tajikistan's five-year civil war ended last year with a UN-brokered peace agreement and a plan to bring opposition leaders into the government. Still, feuds have flared into serious violence twice this year, killing at least 66 people.


Uzbekistan has long been wary of Russia, fearing Moscow wants the grip it had on the region in Soviet days.


Officials on both sides acknowledged before the talks that relations needed improving, and many observers are skeptical they can be mended quickly.


But Yeltsin said he and Karimov would sign a treaty outlining economic cooperation for the next 10 years when the Kremlin leader visits Uzbekistan in early October.


Moscow is keen to maintain a foothold in Central Asia for economic reasons but also wants to ensure that what it regards as religious fanaticism and nationalism in the region does not spread north to its Moslem population.


Uzbekistan, an impoverished country of 23 million people bordering Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Afghanistan, has long been cautious about Russia's intentions.


Karimov has been a lukewarm supporter of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the loose grouping of former Soviet republics, and could help re-integrate the independent states.


Uzbekistan needs foreign trade to boost its economy. Turnover with Russia last year was more than $1.5 billion -- almost one-fifth of Uzbekistan's foreign trade.