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Uzbek Leader Hails First Summit With Kazakhstan

Uzbek President Islam Karimov (file photo) (AFP) PRAGUE, March 21, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Uzbek President Islam Karimov has hailed the visit of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev as one of "unprecedented significance."

Nazarbaev arrived in Tashkent on March 19 for the first state visit by a Kazakh president in the two countries' histories.

Speaking on March 20, Karimov said the three-day summit should spur the two countries to seize "unused opportunities" and he called for such meetings to become a regular event.

The two presidents have been seen as rivals for leadership in Central Asia.

Karimov denied such claims, instead urging the two countries to work together. "Put simply, if Kazakhs and Uzbeks are together -- I want everyone to hear this -- it will be impossible to beat or conquer us," he said.

The two sides agreed to create a council to assess possible new areas of cooperation.

RFE/RL Central Asia Report

RFE/RL Central Asia Report

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