Tajik President Makes Bridge-Building Visit To Uzbekistan

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Tajik President Emomali Rahmon has visited Uzbekistan for talks seen as an important step toward mending a tense and complicated bilateral relationship.

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev met Rahmon at the Tashkent airport on August 17, and the two presidents discussed bilateral relations behind closed doors later in the day.

The Uzbek presidential press service quoted Mirziyoev as saying at the talks that his country wants Rahmon's visit "to be historic," stressing that the two Central Asian nations "had managed in a short time to resolve issues that had been topical for many years."

Rahmon noted that Mirziyoev visited Dushanbe in March, saying that visit "restored ties between our nations and boosted the development of bilateral cooperation."

Rahmon's official visit to Tashkent was the first by the Tajik leader since 1998.

Uzbekistan's relations with its neighbor were marred by Tashkent's role in Tajikistan's devastating 1992-97 civil war and the use of Tajik territory by Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) militants in the late 1990s.

Mirziyoev, who came to power following the death of his predecessor Islam Karimov in 2016, has said forging better relations with Uzbekistan's neighbors is a priority for his government.

During the autocratic Karimov's 27-year rule in Central Asia's most-populous nation, its relations with Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan were strained by disputes over transit routes, border security, water resources, and other issues.

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