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German, Uzbek Presidents Discuss Cooperation In Tashkent


German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (left) and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev meet in Tashkent on May 28.

TASHKENT -- German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev have discussed bilateral cooperation in the Uzbek capital on the second day of Steinmeier's three-day official visit to Central Asia's most populous country.

Mirziyoev said after the talks on May 28 that Steinmeier's visit "will contribute to the further development of bilateral ties between the two countries."

Steinmeier expressed support for the course that the former Soviet republic was taking, saying that Berlin was "following the political, economic, and social change under your leadership with much respect and sympathy."

"Germany wants to encourage and support you to continue resolutely along this path," he added.

Steinmeier is accompanied by his wife and a German business delegation on his trip, which began on May 27.

The visit is seen as part of an effort to reinforce Uzbekistan's path to reform after Mirziyoev came to power in 2016 and to end many years of relative isolation for the Central Asian country under the longtime autocratic leadership of Islam Karimov.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Steinmeier to stress during his visit that the "positive changes" in Uzbekistan under Mirziyoev have been "small steps on a long road."

HRW said areas where further reforms are needed into the "vast" powers that Uzbekistan's security services have retained and "persistent reports that arbitrary detention, torture, and other ill-treatment in custody are widespread."

Mirziyoev, a former prime minister, became president after Karimov's death was announced in September 2016.

Since then, Mirziyoev has taken steps to bolster Uzbekistan's struggling economy and to implement reforms in Uzbekistan -- where rights abuses had been widespread under Karimov.

On the morning of May 29, Steinmeier is scheduled to "discuss current developments in Uzbekistan with representatives of civil society," according to a statement on Steinmeier's website.

The German president also plans on May 29 to meet students of Urganch State University in western Uzbekistan and visit the historic city of Khiva.

With reporting by dpa