Uzbekistan signs raft of deals with Russia

By bne IntelliNews April 16, 2013

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Uzbek President Islam Karimov signed several agreements during his visit to Moscow on April 15, including a deal on the encouragement and mutual protection of investment. The news possibly signals an improvement of conditions for Russian companies operating in Uzbekistan.

The signing of several accords at a meeting between Karimov and Russian President Vladimir Putin indicates a potential improvement in relations between the two countries, which have been rocky in recent years. The visit was Karimov's first trip to Moscow since April 2010.

The meeting also focussed on security cooperation. Karimov warned of the growing risks of extremism as coalition forces withdraw from Afghanistan. "No-one has declared war on us. But the consequences of the expansion in terrorism, extremism and religious radicalism could be far worse than open war," Karimov said. "The balance of powers in the region is constantly changing and not always for the best. We need to meet more often."

A programme on intergovernmental economic cooperation 2013-2017 was also signed among a set of deals in the areas of economy, culture and migration, RIA Novosti reports. That offers the potential for Russian companies to feel more secure in investing in the Central Asian country.

Relations between Russia and Uzbekistan in the economic sphere took a turn for the worse in July, when Russia's largest mobile operator MTS had its Uzbek operating licences suspended. Since then, despite pressure from Moscow, MTS has been unable to resume services in Uzbekistan and has announced plans to file for bankruptcy.

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