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Erdogan Seeks To Find 'Lost Opportunities' On Uzbekistan Visit

RFE/RL's Uzbek Service April 30, 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is touting relations with Uzbekistan during a visit to the Central Asian country, saying that ties have reached a "strategic level."

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev aso talked up Erdogan's three-day trip after meeting with Erdogan on April 30, saying that the visit had "opened a new page in the ties between our two nations."

"Uzbekistan is always open for our Turkish brothers," said Mirziyoev, who has sought to improve Uzbekistan's long-strained relations with other countries in the regional and further afield since he came to power in 2016.

Mirziyoev said that he and Erdogan agreed to create a Supreme Council on the Strategic Partnership between the two countries, and that they would lead the body.

Erdogan said that 25 bilateral agreements would be signed during the visit, which he said "will boost ties between Ankara and Tashkent."

A bilateral economic forum was expected to bring together more than 200 government officials and business leaders.

Before leaving for Tashkent, Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul that he hoped Turkey and Uzbekistan could revive "lost opportunities."

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

Mirziyoev's predecessor, Islam Karimov, who died in 2016 after more than a quarter-century in power, had halted visa-free travel between the two countries and curtailed ties with Ankara in the mid-1990s.

The authoritarian Karimov, who tolerated no dissent, took those steps after Turkey refused to extradite Uzbek opposition leaders Muhammad Solih and Abdurahmon Polat.

Mirziyoev visited Turkey in October 2017, the first official visit by the Uzbek president since Karimov made the trip in 1999.

With reporting by Yeni Safak and live broadcast by Ozbekiston24

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/turkish-president-begins-uzbek-visit- with-eye-on-reviving-lost-opportunities-/29200300.html

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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