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Uzbekistan: Russian Defense Minister Arrives In Tashkent

Tashkent/Bishkek, 1 September 1999 (RFE/RL) - Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev arrived in Uzbekistan today for talks with President Islam Karimov on the situation in neighboring Kyrgyzstan. Sergeyev said on arrival in Tashkent that Russia would send weapons, ammunition, and other equipment to Kyrgyzstan to help defeat Islamic militants who have taken hostages in the south of the country. He says officials are not talking about sending Russian troops. Sergeyev says it will be difficult to solve the problem of Islamic extremism and terrorism in Central Asia if regional leaders do not coordinate their activities. Meanwhile, a Kyrgyz presidential spokesman says gunmen who last week seized a group of hostages in southern Kyrgyzstan have released three of their captives. Kanybek Imanaliyev said the released hostages were Kyrgyz policemen. He said the policemen had reported to authorities in the village of Karamyk at midnight but gave no details. Another 13 hostages, including four Japanese geologists and a Kyrgyz general, remained in captivity.