Gazprom to Provide Uzbekistan with Technical Assistance

Uzbek President Islam Karimov said his country wants Gazprom to explore Uzbek oil and gas deposits and would like it to be the pipeline operator. "Uzbekistan is definitely interested not only in Gazprom coming to our deposits, but also in Gazprom being the pipeline operator in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan," Karimov told a news conference on Wednesday following his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Samarkand. Karimov said one of the most important issues addressed during the negotiations was oil and gas cooperation. "We have no differences in this area," he said.

In turn, Putin said that that during the talks the sides discussed bilateral cooperation, including developing relations in the gas sphere. "We will act in line with the agreement on strategic cooperation in the gas sphere" and increase volumes, he said.

Gazprom executives have visited Uzbekistan and the Russian leadership is prepared to back the company's activities in gas exploration and production, as well as in expansion of the pipeline network.

The president said that his talks with the Uzbek president were successful and that new potential for economic cooperation is opening up between the countries.

The discussion was deep and brought about tangible results, said. New possibilities for cooperation in energy, aircraft construction and light industry have emerged, he said. A bilateral inter-governmental commission will be revamped. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Boris Alyoshin will co-chair it.

In response to questions from journalists, Putin said that the commission's tasks include an analysis of current economic legislation and practice. He said that the commission should take steps to improve the law and should also be a lobbyist for companies from both states.

The first meeting of the revamped commission will take place in September. In response to a question on the situation with Russian business in Uzbekistan, Karimov said, "we are open to Russian business."