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Uzbek President On Official Visit To Ankara After Nearly 20-Year Pause

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev (left) was invited to Ankara by his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan (right)

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev is on a two-day trip to Turkey, the first official visit to the country by Uzbekistan's president since 1999.

Mirziyoev, who was invited by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, arrived in Ankara on October 25.

Mirziyoev's office said that he and Erdogan plan to discuss ties between the countries, which share common linguistic, religious, cultural, and historical backgrounds.

Turkey was the first country to officially recognize the independence of the five Central Asian states after the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991, but relations between Uzbekistan and Turkey have been tense for years.

Islam Karimov, the long-ruling Uzbek president who died last year, halted visa-free travel between the two countries and curtailed ties with Ankara in the mid-1990s, after Turkey refused to extradite Uzbek opposition leaders Muhammad Solih and Abdurahmon Polat.

Mirziyoev, who came to power after Karimov's death, signed a decree on October 23 simplifying visa issuance for Turkish citizens by abolishing invitation letters for Turks intending to visit Uzbekistan and ordering Uzbek authorities to issue the visas in three days.

Mirziyoev is expected to visit the Turkish parliament and meet with its speaker, Ismail Kahraman.

With reporting by Haberturk and Yeni Safak
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