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Uzbek President Mirziyaev Starts First State Visit To China


Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyaev

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyaev has started a state visit to China that is expected to focus mainly on economic ties.

Mirziyaev's office said he left Tashkent on May 11 for Beijing, where he plans to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and other senior officials.

Mirziyaev’s spokesman, Asad Khojaev, said on May 10 that almost 100 agreements worth about $20 billion will be signed during the visit and that prospects for increasing Chinese investment in Uzbekistan will be discussed.

Mirziyaev will also attend a forum on Xi's regional One Belt One Road initiative in Beijing on May 14-15.

Mirziyaev’s first visit to China since his election in December will be watched for signs of any change in the approach of his predecessor, Islam Karimov, who died last year after more than 25 years in power.

Karimov pursued cordial ties with China, in part as a hedge against Russia's efforts to restore its clout in Central Asia after the 1991 Soviet collapse.

Under Karimov, Uzbekistan drastically increased its natural-gas exports to China, taking advantage of China's investment in Central Asian pipelines and Beijing's efforts to reduce its reliance on Russian gas.

Mirziyaev's visit to China comes a month after he visited Moscow on April 4-5 and discussed bilateral ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Uzbek Service and kun.uz
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