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RFE/RL Opens Bureau in Uzbek Capital Tashkent

Tashkent, April 17 (RFE/RL) - Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty opened a news bureau today in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent.

The Tashkent office becomes the 18th news bureau in an RFE/RL network extending over Central Europe and the former Soviet Union.

RFE/RL Director of Broadcasting Robert Gillette said the Tashkent facility will enable RFE/RL to more effectively cover political, economic and cultural developments in Uzbekistan, a Central Asian country of 23 million people.

The opening of the bureau followed a two-hour meeting involving Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov, RFE/RL President Kevin Klose, U.S. Ambassador Stanley T. Escudero, and RFE/RL Uzbek Service Director Yaqub Turan.

Klose said Karimov welcomed the radios and looks forward to future cooperation. Klose said Karimov also expressed the hope that the increased presence of RFE/RL and other Western media in Uzbekistan will help the development of journalism there.