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German Chancellor Schroeder visits Tashkent

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder arrived in Uzbekistan from Afghanistan on 9 May, where he visited German troops in the border town of Termez, stationed there as part of the International Security Assistance Force.

He continued on to the capital Tashkent to meet President Islam Karimov on 10 May, local news sources reported. Schroeder thanked Karimov for making Termez airport available and for opening the Friendship Bridge at Termez to allow supplies and humanitarian aid to be transported to the German contingent in Afghanistan, Uzbek radio and Reuters reported. Interfax added that Germany used Termez airport free of charge and paid only for accommodation, catering, and other services, on the basis on an intergovernmental agreement signed in February between Tashkent and Berlin. At a press conference after talks with Karimov, Schroeder said that German soldiers would continue to use Termez base as long as they were involved in operations in Afghanistan and Tashkent let them use it.

The Chancellor was also accompanied by a large contingent of German businessmen, said on 10 May. The delegation visited the Hobas Tapo plant in Tashkent, a German-Uzbek joint venture that manufactures plastic piping. Karimov said there was still a lot of untapped potential as far as trade between their countries was concerned, German radio reported on 10 May.

(RFE/RL 16.v.02)

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