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Uzbeks Suspend Gas Supplies To South Kyrgyzstan

OSH, Kyrgyzstan -- Uzbekistan has suspended its gas supply to the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz and Uzbek services reported.

Osh Deputy Mayor Alymzhan Baygazakov told RFE/RL that gas supplies were suspended recently to the southern Kyrgyz cities of Osh, Jalalabad, and Batken.

He added that Osh owes some $2 million of Kyrgyzstan's overall $18 million gas debt to Uzbekistan.

Salamat Aytikeev, the head of the KyrgyzGaz state energy company, traveled to Tashkent to conduct negotiations with his Uzbek counterparts on September 24.

Kyrgyz Prime Minister Igor Chudinov previously told RFE/RL that Kyrgyzstan would hold negotiations with the Uzbek side in order to decrease the price of gas.

Kyrgyzstan currently buys Uzbek gas for $240 per 1,000 cubic meters.

On January 1, Uzbekistan increased the gas price it charges neighboring Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, saying last year's price of $145 per 1,000 cubic meters was far below market rates.

Uzbekistan provides energy resources to Kyrgyzstan and the Uzbeks are dependent on the Kyrgyz for water.

Uzbekistan has on several occasions stopped exporting energy to Kyrgyzstan, souring relations.

Ties between the two have worsened over Kyrgyz plans to build hydroelectric power plants that might reduce the amount of water Uzbekistan would receive Kyrgyzstan.