Russian Leader to Seek Uzbek Support

Russian Leader to Seek Uzbek Support

Tuesday, 6 January, 2009
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will hold talks with his Uzbek counterpart Islam Karimov during a state visit to Tashkent on January 22-23.

Medvedov used his New Year address to single out the importance of relations with Uzbekistan, the most populous country in Central Asia.

According to a NBCentralAsia analysts in Uzbekistan, “Medvedev wants to engage Karimov’s support on many issues, from participation in regional associations to joint energy projects.”

Analysts say Moscow is increasingly concerned about Uzbekistan’s fluctuating foreign policy orientation – at times pro-Russian, and at others, for example at the moment, apparently favouring closer ties with the West.

In October, the Uzbeks announced they were withdrawing from the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Community. They also indicated that they were open to energy cooperation with the West, potentially without Russia.

“All this is a major worry for Russia, which does not want to let Tashkent move out of its sphere of influence,” said the analyst in Uzbekistan.

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