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Russian, Uzbek Defense Ministers Attend Exercises

23 September 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and Uzbek Defense Minister Kadyr Gulomov are scheduled today to watch the first joint military exercises between their country's forces without international supervision since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The three-day war games, which started on 21 September, involve 200 troops from each side. They are taking place at the Forish mountain range, some 250 kilometers from Tashkent.

Ivanov has said the exercises are necessary to confront what he described as "new threats and challenges in the region."

The Russian defense minister arrived in Tashkent on 21 September from Bishkek, where he announced plans to hold joint antiterrorism military exercises with Kyrgyzstan next year.

Ivanov is expected to meet with Uzbek President Islam Karimov before ending his visit later today.