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Putin Visits Karimov's Grave, Meets Uzbek PM

Russian President Vladimir Putin (center) walks with Uzbek Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyaev (left) as he takes part in a wreath-laying ceremony in memory of late Uzbek President Islam Karimov in Samarkand on September 6.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has visited the grave of the former president of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, as he paid his respects in Karimov's home city of Samarkand.

The Russian president on September 6 placed flowers at Karimov's grave at the cemetery near the historic monument of Shahi Zinda.

He also expressed his condolences to Tatyana Karimova, the widow of the president, and his youngest daughter, Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva.

At a meeting with Uzbek Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyaev, Putin said Uzbekistan can fully count on Russia.

"Of course, we very much hope that the groundwork laid by President Islam Karimov will be used further," he said.

"For our part, we will do everything to maintain this path of joint development and to support the people of Uzbekistan and the Uzbek administration. You can fully count on us as your most reliable friend."

He also thanked Mirziyaev for the opportunity to pay his respects to a man who "did so much for his country, for his people."

Mirziyaev said that Uzbekistan was keen to maintain and develop strategic relations with Moscow.

"Your visit today says a lot and we are very grateful," he told Putin during their meeting.

Putin did not attend Karimov's state funeral on September 3.

Speaking to reporters at the G20 summit in China on September 5, Putin called Karimov's death a "great loss" for Uzbekistan.

Putin said he hoped the Central Asian's country new leadership would be able to preserve stability.

Karimov, a former communist boss, ruled for 27 years at the center of a tight inner circle and ruthlessly applied the country's security and intelligence forces to keep a tight lid on dissent.

"One can make different judgements about what he did for his country, one can view various moments in Uzbekistan's modern history differently, but he preserved stability in the country, he preserved its steady development," Putin said.

"This is very important for such country as Uzbekistan, it is vital for its self-preservation and future progressive development," Putin added.

Putin said he also hoped Russia's good relations with Uzbekistan would be maintained.

Based on reporting by Interfax and TASS