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MOSCOW, June 4 (Itar-Tass) —— Uzbekistani President Islam Karimov and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the Declaration of Enhanced Strategic Partnership between the two countries and the Memorandum of Understanding at their talks in Tashkent on Monday, June 4.
Under the memorandum, Uzbekistan will have to complete the talks by the end of the year and join the free trade zone between former Soviet republics.
The first free trade zone agreement in the post-Soviet space was signed in 1994 but not all countries, including Russia, ratified it. It was replaced by a new free trade zone treaty signed on October 18, 2011 by the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, and Tajikistan. Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan said they would study the possibility of joining the treaty.
Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said before Putin’s visit that the memorandum reflects the readiness of Russia and Uzbekistan “to undertake concerted practical steps to complete at the earliest opportunity the multilateral negotiations towards Uzbekistan’s speediest accession to the Free Trade Zone Treaty”.
“The negotiations are to be completed by the end of 2012. Such scheduled was approved and it was agreed that we would work together and very closely and intensively,” the aide said.