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Uzbeks, Turkmen To Ease Border Transit

ASHGABAT -- Uzbek President Islam Karimov and Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov have signed an agreement to ease cross-border transit for people living along their common frontier, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

The protocol signed on December 13 amends a 2004 bilateral agreement.

Karimov, who is on a two-day visit to Turkmenistan for the opening ceremony of the Turkmenistan-China natural-gas pipeline, said the Uzbek-Turkmen talks are deeply symbolic for bilateral relations.

No specifics about the changes in border-crossing procedures were immediately reported.

Rozagul, a woman from the western Uzbek town of Khorezm, told RFE/RL that people living in the Uzbek-Turkmen border area are very happy to hear about simplified procedures to cross the border.

She said that currently the border can be crossed only once per month and after a payment of some $8.

Rozagul said that many people were often unable to visit their relatives in Turkmenistan for weddings and other family events.

A representative from the Khorezm-based organization Najot told RFE/RL that in the last 10 years some 62 Uzbek citizens have been shot dead by Turkmen border guards.