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Uzbek Foreign Ministry Mulls Abolition Of Exit Visas

Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov speaks in Tashkent on April 14, 2017.

Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov and other officials have held a discussion of the possible abolition of exit visas for Uzbeks traveling abroad.

According to the ministry, the matter was discussed on July 8.

Representatives of the presidential administration, the Prosecutor-General's Office, the Interior Ministry, the Employment Ministry, the State Customs Committee, the Migration Agency, and other state bodies took part in the discussion.

There was no information on the conclusions of the discussion.

In January, a wide-ranging presidential draft decree posted on a government website included a clause that would scrap a long-standing requirement that Uzbeks seeking to travel abroad receive an exit visa.

However, some Uzbek officials have played down expectations that the tightly controlled Central Asian nation will abolish exit visas anytime soon.

The exit-visa system inherited from the Soviet era has been a major barrier for Uzbeks seeking to leave the country. It has also become a source of illegal income for officials who expedite the process in exchange for bribes.

The proposal is one of a number of initiatives that appear aimed at opening up the country under President Shavkat Mirziyaev, who was elected after the death of longtime autocrat Islam Karimov last year.

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