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KULOB, Tajikistan -- Uzbek air-traffic controllers refused for more than an hour on July 10 to allow a Tajik passenger plane to leave Uzbek airspace, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Kulob International Airport deputy head Qurbon Safarov said the Uzbek officials claimed that the plane's equipment did not respond properly to signals sent from the ground.

They said that was the reason for refusing to allow the pilot to leave Uzbek airspace. The plane was bound for Russia.

Safarov noted that the aircraft burned a large amount of fuel circling in Uzbek airspace while the pilot negotiated with Uzbek air-traffic officials for permission to continue its flight.

Uzbekistan terminated long-standing air-traffic agreements with neighboring Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan last month.

Some Tajik analysts and politicians interpreted the Uzbek cancelation of the agreement as an attempt to thwart Tajikistan's economic development, citing an ongoing blockade by Uzbekistan of rail freight cars bound for Tajikistan.
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