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Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan Sign Economic Cooperation Treaty --> Uzbek asylum seekers in Kyrgyzstan have been a source of tension (RFE/RL) TASHKENT, October 3, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan have signed a bilateral treaty on economic, scientific, and humanitarian cooperation for the five years to come, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

The pact was inked at the end of the talks visiting Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev had today in Tashkent with his Uzbek counterpart, Islam Karimov.

Uzbekistan's state-controlled media say members of both delegations signed another four cooperation agreements today.

Addressing reporters after his talks with Karimov, Bakiev praised the current state of bilateral ties.

"We exchanged viewpoints on a wide range of issues pertaining to bilateral cooperation," Bakiev said. "[Both sides] noted they were mutually interested in bringing bilateral relations to new heights. They also emphasized the need to enhance all aspects of their current cooperation."

Bakiev has been criticized in his country for not opposing the extradition of a number of Uzbek refugees and asylum seekers wanted in their home country for their alleged participation in last year's Andijon unrest.

Kyrgyz rights campaigners have criticized Bakiev for strengthening security ties with Uzbekistan, saying he is imitating Karimov's tough policy against banned Islamic groupings.

The Kyrgyz president is in Uzbekistan until October 4.

(with UzA and