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Kyrgyz, Uzbek Defense Officials Convene For First Time Since Soviet Collapse

Uzbek Defense Minister Abdusalom Azizov

BISHKEK -- The top Kyrgyz and Uzbek defense officials have met to discuss cooperation for the first time since the two Central Asian countries gained independence when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

A delegation led by the Chief of the Kyrgyz Armed Forces General Staff, Raiimberdi Duishenbiev, started a four-day official visit to Uzbekistan on June 11, Kyrgyz officials said.

The Kyrgyz General Staff said on June 13 that Duishenbiev held talks with Uzbek Defense Minister Abdusalom Azizov, the first such negotiations ever.

The talks focused on bilateral military cooperation and regional security. A document outlining a plan of bilateral military ties was signed at the end of the talks, the General Staff said.

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev has taken steps to improve Uzbekistan's ties with the its neighbors since he became president after the death of autocrat Islam Karimov in 2016.

During Karimov's 27-year rule in Central Asia's most populous nation, its relations with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan were strained by disputes over transit routes, border security, water resources, and other issues.