On January 8 in Tashkent the prime ministers of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, Utkir Sultonov and Yahio Azimov, signed a package of agreements which cover deliveries of Uzbek natural gas to Tajikistan, a rescheduling of Tajik debts to Uzbekistan and mutual payments for the transit of either country’s goods through the territory of the other, taking interlinked transport networks into account. Uzbek President Islam Karimov agreed with Azimov that “there would be no decline in Uzbek-Tajik friendly relations in the future” (Uzbek Television, Itar-Tass, January 8).
Such a “decline” was very much in evidence following the Uzbek-supported invasion of Tajikistan’s Leninabad region last November. The fighting was followed by vitriolic polemics (see the Monitor, November 17, 1998). Azimov’s visit to Tashkent and the agreements signed there may signal a reconciliation. Dushanbe, which is in desperate economic straits, plays the weaker hand in this relationship.
ISLAMIST GROUP IN UZBEKISTAN SENTENCED TO PRISON.