TASHKENT, December 10. /TASS/. Uzbek President Islam Karimov noted Russia’s stabilizing role in Central Asia and named any attempts to neglect Russian-Uzbek common interests unpromising.
“Russia always had interests in Central Asia, and its presence was always stabilizing,” Karimov said at the start of talks with visiting Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
The two leaders began narrow-format talks and will later continue with delegations of the two countries joining talks.
Putin’s visit to Uzbekistan is needed to harmonize positions amid a thorny situation in international affairs, Karimov noted. He suggested debating bilateral relations, including those “which should be changed.”
Meanwhile, the two leaders should talk about the issues of “ensuring peace and stability in the Central Asian region,” Karimov said. “The Afghan problem is far from being settled finally. We should share views on what will happen after the withdrawal of troops (International Security Assistance Force) from Afghanistan,” he said.
Moscow and Tashkent have mutual interests in this issue that “cannot be settled without Russia’s positions taken into account,” Karimov noted.
The Russian president thanked the host for “a cordial atmosphere” which the latter always provides during bilateral contacts. Putin recalled that an election cycle would begin in Uzbekistan in the near future, at first polls in the Legislative Chamber, the lower house of Uzbekistan’s parliament, and then presidential election, and wished Karimov success in these large-scale events.
“Russia takes confidently the leading place among trade and economic partners (for Uzbekistan) and seeks to keep this position,” Putin noted.
“Uzbekistan is one of Russian priority partners in the region,” the Russian president noted. “Russia takes this as a matter of fact, because Uzbekistan is the largest country (in Central Asia),” the Russian leader added.