Presidents Nursultan Nazarbaev of Kazakhstan, Askar Akaev of Kyrgyzstan and Imomali Rahmonov of Tajikistan, joined by Uzbek Prime Minister Utkir Sultanov representing President Islam Karimov, held a regular summit of the Central Asian Union on July 17 in the Kyrgyz town of Cholpon-Ata. The summit only produced a statement regarding cooperation in dealing with natural calamities–a timely move in the wake of the floods that have afflicted their countries in recent weeks.
The leaders agreed to rename the Central Asian Union into Central Asian Economic Community, a decision that reflects the scaling down of ambitious earlier goals. Even on the economic front, there was no word about the plans announced at preceding summits to create Central Asian consortiums in the hydropower, irrigation and transportation sectors.
Karimov’s office announced only hours before the meeting that the president would not participate because he was “running a temperature.” In fact, statements made at the summit obliquely suggested that Sultanov and Rahmonov disagreed with Nazarbaev over the wording of a statement on regional security. The Uzbek and Tajik leaders apparently sought a document that would describe the Taliban in Afghanistan as a threat to the security of Central Asian countries. Nazarbaev managed to have the document sent back for redrafting and reconsideration at the next summit. (Russian and international agencies, July 17 and 18)–VS
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