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Russia/Uzbekistan: Central Asian Troika Formed To Bolster Peace

Moscow, 6 May 1998 (RFE/RL) - Uzbek President Islam Karimov and Russian President Boris Yeltsin agreed today to form a three-nation partnership to bolster peace in the Central Asian region. Karimov said the troika of Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan would work to end violence in Tajikistan and to revive that country's economy. They would also join efforts in the fight against Islamic fundamentalism and extremism in the region

A peace agreement last year ended an almost five-year civil war in Tajikistan, but sporadic clashes between Tajik government forces and opposition fighters continue.

Yeltsin and Karimov also agreed on a 10-year cooperation agreement to be signed during Yeltsin's visit to Uzbekistan in October. They also signed an agreement on further cooperation in the joint construction of transport aircraft.

Yeltsin said he spoke today by telephone with Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov, who agreed to the troika.

Rakhmonov, meanwhile, met with Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev and Prime Minister Kubanychbek JumAliyev today at the start of an official visit to Bishkek. Our correspondent says Rakhmonov and Akayev signed a joined declaration calling for closer ties between their nations, as well as an agreement on cooperation between law-enforcement agencies.

Also in Bishkek, Rakhmonov said that his country has a good chance of achieving peace, despite recent clashes between government troops and opposition forces. Rakhmonov said the peace process in Tajikistan, which suffered years of civil war, was irreversible.

Last week government troops and opposition fighters clashed in and around the Tajik capital Dushanbe. The four days of fighting was some of the worst since the signing of last year's peace deal.