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Putin Meets Karimov; Russia To Write Off Uzbek Debt


Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and his Uzbek counterpart, Islam Karimov, talk in Tashkent on December 10.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and his Uzbek counterpart, Islam Karimov, talk in Tashkent on December 10.

Russia and Uzbekistan have signed an agreement on the regulation of mutual financial obligations after Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Tashkent with Uzbek President Islam Karimov.

The deal was signed by Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov and Uzbek Finance Minister Rustam Azimov on December 10.

Siluanov said earlier that Russia would agree to write off most of Uzbekistan's $890 million debt to Moscow.

The two countries also signed an accord for a long-term and stable presence of Uzbek farming products on the Russian market.

Russia has banned most Western food imports in retaliation against U.S. and EU sanctions over Moscow's interference in Ukraine.

Putin and Karimov on December 10 also discussed regional security issues, the situation in Syria and Iraq, and concerns about developments in Afghanistan after the withdrawal this month of most NATO troops now there.

Karimov said Russia can help maintain security in Central Asia from what he described as a rising threat from militant Islam.

Karimov said "various elements" of Islamic State were "already slipping into Afghanistan from Iraq and Syria," without elaborating.

Karimov said Russia's presence in Central Asia was an "important factor to support peace and security."

Putin said Russia shared Uzbek concerns over NATO's impending pullout from Afghanistan, given its own conflict with Islamist militants in the Northern Caucasus.

Russian-Uzbek relations have been tense since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Karimov, in power in Central Asia's most populous nation since before the Soviet breakup, has been suspicious of Russian intentions in Central Asia.

Based on reporting by Interfax and RIA Novosti
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