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Foreign minister denies speculation linking country to Russia-led trade and security organizations.28 November 2017
Five Central Asian leaders have agreed to hold regular meetings, starting as early as next year. The announcement was made by Uzbekistan and if confirmed would mark a significant boost for multilateral cooperation in a region known more for isolationism and squabbles between strongman rulers.
Since Karimov’s death, “foreign delegations have been beating a path to the capital Tashkent, drawn by the potential of the Central Asian country’s oil and gas and vast cotton crop as well as areas such as car and food production, machinery and chemicals,” Reuters comments.
“I think you can feel it in the air how the atmosphere is really changing,” Uzbek businessman Hikmat Abdurahmonov told Reuters, adding, “people are planning new businesses, you can see a lot of start-ups coming.”
In the last year, Uzbekistan has scrapped most of its restrictions on capital and said it would abolish the exit visa system that is especially hard on the migrant workers whose remittances are vital for the economy.
The government also bowed to international pressure by freeing students, teachers, and medical workers from mandatory work in the cotton fields, another major source of revenue.
The regional summits would also be noteworthy for the absence of the Eurasian great powers. Most countries in the region belong to either Russia- or China-led organizations.
Uzbekistani Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Komilov told Nikkei Asian Review there was no truth to speculation the country was considering joining the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union, or the Collective Security Treaty Organization.
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